Opponents File Legal Challenge Against Gabon Presidential Election Results



Opponents of Gabon's President-elect Ali Ben Bongo want the country's constitutional court to annul the results of last month's vote. They are alleging massive fraud.

Former Interior Minister Andre Mba Obame says he has come to the "incontestable conclusion" that last month's vote was false because of what he calls massive fraud orchestrated by electoral officials to benefit President-elect Bongo.

So he says Gabon's constitutional court should annul those results and overturn Mr. Bongo's victory.

Obame says what the lawsuit is asking of the constitutional court is very simple: all of the results from each of the 2815 polling stations should be re-examined to reveal truthfully what happened. Obame says the Gabonese people have the right for the constitutional court to show them that respect.

Official results from the August 30 election show Mr. Bongo winning nearly 42 percent of the vote. Obame finished a distant second with about 26 percent. Long-time opposition candidate Pierre Mamboundou came third with about 25 percent.

Mamboundou and several other opposition candidates are joining Obame in asking the constitutional court to annul Mr. Bongo's election because they say they have found evidence of fraud in more than two-thirds of the polling station results they have analyzed.

The court has one month to consider the request. But opposition candidates are complaining to reporters that they have seen a letter from the foreign ministry inviting diplomats to the president-elect's swearing-in this coming Monday.

Mr. Bongo is the son of Gabon's long-time ruler Omar Bongo, who died in June after 42 years in power. His death raised expectations of change in Gabon, even though his son was considered the front-runner from the start.

The announcement of another ruling-party victory sparked violent protests in the city of Port Gentil, where opposition demonstrators burned the French Consulate and attacked offices of French and U.S. oil companies. Port Gentil has been under an overnight curfew since that violence.

Opposition efforts to organize nationwide strikes this week failed. Most electoral observers say they believe the vote was fair despite irregularities that included the absence of opposition representatives during vote counting in some polling stations. 

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