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Constitutional court begins recount of presidential ballot

Gabon's constitutional court has started to recount the votes in the presidential election held on August 30. Opposition candidates Andre Mba Obame and Pierre Manboundou hope the recount will cancel the disputed election of Ali Bongo.


AFP - A month after the presidential election, won by Ali Bongo Ondimba, Gabon's constitutional court will on Tuesday begin a recount of votes, at the request of several losing candidates.

The main opposition candidates, former interior minister Andre Mba Obame, who officially came second with 25.88 percent, and veteran opponent Pierre Mamboundou, who came third with 25.22 percent, both hope that the recount will lead to the annulment of Ali Bongo's election.

They each claim to have won the August 30 poll.

But Ali Bongo, the successor to his father, Omar Bongo Ondimba, who died in June after 41 years in power, was proclaimed the winner of the vote with a strong lead of 41.73 percent of votes cast.

For the ruling Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG), which backed Ali Bongo as its candidate, this was a time of "serenity," according to PDG secretary-general Faustin Boukoubi. "The election took place openly. Whether you recount once or 100 times, it doesn't change the results."

The announcement on September 3 of Ali Bongo's victory led to unrest in Libreville and three days of rioting and looting in the southwestern oil city of Port-Gentil, where three people were killed, according to an official toll.

The opposition has registered five deaths in Port-Gentil, with a sixth person killed later by security forces.

According to the official results, Mba Obame was first in the election in Libreville, while Mamboundou was the winner in Port-Gentil.

The recount "will begin at 2:00 pm (1300 GMT). We are doubtless going to spend all night doing it, it will be long," a constitutional court source told AFP.

The court has received 11 requests to annul the election results, and the decision to go ahead with a recount has been welcomed by the plaintiffs and by representatives of civil society, though there have been arguments as to how the recount should be carried out.

The president of the Constitutional Court, Marie-Madeleine Mborantsuo, said that it would be "practically a vote count, but this time we will be using the official reports (summing up counted votes) in each polling station."

"The official reports of all the polling stations will be studied this time in the presence of bailiffs appointed by the plantiffs," Mborantsuo on Saturday told Radio France Internationale (RFI).

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