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Constitutional court to rule on validity of presidential poll

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2009-10-12

Gabon's Constitutional Court is scheduled to announce its ruling late Monday on whether to validate Ali Bongo Ondimba's disputed victory in an August presidential poll that opposition leaders claim was rigged.

AFP - Gabon's Constitutional Court was to announce its ruling late Monday on whether to validate Ali Bongo Ondimba's victory in August's presidential poll, which opponents claim was rigged.

The court would give its decision at 8:00 pm (1900 GMT), court president Marie-Madeleine Mborantsuo said, adding however that the court may opt to defer the decision.

The court has studied 11 requests for the election to be annulled.

Meanwhile, second-placed candidate Andre Mba Obame began a hunger strike in protest at the result, his entourage said in a statement.

Mba Obame, a former interior minister, said in the statement it would continue "for as long as intimidation, force and violence is used as the sole means to settle the serious socio-political crisis Gabon is currently going through."

"I am ready to sacrifice my life so that Gabon will not sink into dictatorship, civil war and genocide," he said.

The Constitutional Court's decision could either validate Bongo's election and pave the way for his investiture over the coming days, or annul the vote entirely, observers said.

"The court has the possibility of annuling results of some polling stations where things did not go as they should, but that won't make any great difference to the final result, though without doubt Bongo's share of the vote would drop a little," a legal source told AFP.

Bongo, the son of veteran leader Omar Bongo Ondimba, who died in June after 41 years in power, was proclaimed the winner of the election on September 4 with 41.7 percent of the ballot.

Mba Obame officially came second with 25.88 percent, with Pierre Mamboundou, a veteran opposition leader, third with 25.22 percent.

Under the constitution, the court needs to resolve the electoral dispute by October 20.

Date created : 2009-10-12

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