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Gabonese Express Doubt About Fairness of Sunday’s Presidential Vote

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  • Desire Ename, Publisher of Gabon’s independent Echos Dunord newspaper, Spoke With Clottey

Voters in Gabon are expressing worry the Sunday's presidential election will be neither free nor fair. They say the electoral commission is ill-prepared to organize a transparent election. 

The winner of Sunday's vote will succeed long time leader Omar Bongo who died of a heart attack at a Spanish Clinic in June this year. 

So far, Ali Ben Bongo, son of the former president seems to be the frontrunner.

But opposition groups have accused the electoral commission of failing to address their concerns about the electoral register, which they describe as problematic. 

Desire Ename, publisher of Gabon's independent Echos Dunord newspaper said that Gabonese are not reposing confidence in the fairness of Sunday's vote.

"I think that the electoral commission did not do well in the organization of this election…most people who wanted to participate in the election were not registered… so many of them did not register. So, by now so many people are in the situation where they probably will not be able to participate in the election," Ename said.

He said people are expressing worry that the election will not be transparent.

"Another aspect has been the impartiality of the commission, we don't feel it. We don't feel that the commission is really impartial," he said.

Ename said the government has failed to reassure the public about the transparency of the election.

"The minister of interior doesn't give the answers many people are asking about the way the election (is) going to be organized in the sense of seeing a real transparent election, and the minister of interior doesn't give the appropriate answer to that," Ename said.

He denied the security situation is tensed ahead of the vote.

"There is no problem of security. Everything is normal (and) there is no particular problem. We don't have troops in the streets; we don't have this kind of thing. People are going to their occupations like they want. Most candidates are having their meetings and in fact there is no security problem," he said.

Ename said reaction is mixed ahead of the election.

"They (Gabonese) have two attitudes; on the one hand some people feel they are anxious. They feel that the country will be going through turmoil after the election like we saw it in 1993 and 1998…but the others are optimistic because they want a change," Ename said.

He said there are no guarantees that Sunday's vote will be peaceful.

Earlier this month several opposition presidential candidates demanded a postponement of the election, claiming the electoral body was not prepared to organize the election.

But the interim transitional government led by Rose Francine Rogombé, and Prime Minister, Paul Mba Biyoghe rejected the opposition's demand, paving the way for Sunday's vote.  

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