Gabon’s Opposition Cautious about Vote Recount

Gabon’s Opposition Cautious about Vote Recount
Gabon’s Opposition Cautious about Vote Recount

Gabon's opposition parties have welcomed as vindication a decision by the Constitutional Court to re-count the votes from the August 30th presidential election. 

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They had challenged the electoral commission's decision to declare Ali Ben Bongo winner of the vote, claiming the ruling party rigged the vote. 

The ruling party has denied the accusation. Soon after the electoral body announced the winner of the vote, opposition supporters clashed with security forces leaving several people dead and property destroyed. 

Political observers had hoped the August 30 election would mark Gabon's first chance towards democracy after over two decades under the late President Omar Bongo. 

Desire Ename, publisher of Gabon's Independent Echos Dunard newspaper said that the opposition is cautiously optimistic about the prospects of the vote recount.

"The Constitutional Court has decided to be impartial and this is the first reaction I can have," Ename said.

He said the opposition demanded a vote recount shortly after election.

"The opposition leader must be satisfied of that decision because that is exactly what they have asked for since the end of the election. So I think that it is a total satisfaction from the opposition members," he said.

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Ename said the opposition is also skeptical about the vote recount.

"I have also heard some people saying that they remain very careful that it can be a good decision, but most of the people are not confident in the decision of the Constitutional Court," Ename said.

Pierre Mamboundou, Gabon's opposition leader was seriously injured after his supporters violently clashed with the security forces shortly after the electoral commission declared Ali Ben Bongo winner of the August 30th vote.

The opposition also called for a three day nationwide strike to put pressure on the government for a vote recount.

Mamboundou and other opposition leaders also accused the government of plotting to assassinate them after describing the vote as electoral coup d'état.

Ename said Mamboundou will feel vindicated by the court's decision.

"What Mr. Pierre Mamboundou said must be on the basis of the way the election went on after the vote. So, it is his opinion (and) it is a clear opinion and a real one because most of the people in Gabon… feel that the issue of the election was not told in a very righteous way as (it) should have been told," Ename said.

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He said Gabonese hailed the decision of the court to recount the vote.

"Many people are happy… but some other people say it is better to be careful because we don't know what will be the issue," he said.

Ename said most Gabonese want change.

"If Mr. Bongo is not declared the winner (of the recount) it will be a great explosion of joy for many people… what majority of the people want to see is to see another leadership, someone else as the head of the country," Ename said.

The winner of the vote recount will replace long-time late President Omar Bongo who died of a heart attack at a Barcelona clinic early June.                      

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