Don't miss




Road Rage: French 'yellow vests' movement protests fuel prices

Read more


Indian Railways hiring! World's largest recruitment drive now underway

Read more


Music show: Serpentwithfeet on reinventing gospel with complex visions of gay black love

Read more


Cubic poop: Scientists crack mystery of wombats' square-shaped faeces

Read more


Truth is the first casualty: The war on journalism and facts

Read more


EU elections: Green MEP Bas Eickhout on energy policy, populism and more

Read more


EU elections: EPP lead candidate Manfred Weber on Trump, Brexit and more

Read more


'830,000 people are dying every year because of unsafe sanitation'

Read more


Suspected gas cylinder blast kills 42 on Zimbabwe bus

Read more


Tense Gabon awaits court verdict on disputed presidential vote

© AFP file photo | All eyes are on Gabon's constitutional court in Libreville, where the country's next president will be decided..

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2016-09-23

Gabon's constitutional court is due to rule as early as Friday on who will be the country's next president, ending weeks of uncertainty after disputed polls sparked a political crisis and violent protests.

Incumbent President Ali Bongo, the son of late autocratic ruler Omar Bongo, was declared the winner of the August 27 election by a margin of fewer than 6,000 votes.

But rival Jean Ping, a career diplomat and former head of the African Union, filed a legal challenge and demanded a recount, saying that the vote was fraudulent.

The court met Thursday and has retired to consider its verdict. It has the choice of either upholding the original result or overturning it.

“All options are open,” said Marcel Amoko, FRANCE 24’s correspondent in the capital, Libreville. “It is impossible to know on which side the court will lean.”

Ping has made clear he believes Bongo has the court in his pocket, referring to it as "the Tower of Pisa that always leans the same way".

His entourage has accused the court’s president, Marie-Madeleine Mborantsuo, of already being guilty of a "miscarriage of justice", citing an interview she gave.

"I have to say that it is rare that the choice of a reversal [of the election results] is made," she told the weekly Jeune Afrique on September 15 -- a statement that infuriated the pro-Ping supporters.

Mborantsuo, a former beauty queen from Bongo's stronghold of Haut-Ogooue, caught the attention of late leader Omar Bongo and was named to the country's top court when she was only 28.

She had an affair with him and bore him two children. According to the opposition and the Gabonese media, she has amassed a large property portfolio at home and abroad.

"Nobody wants to be in Mborantsuo's shoes," said a diplomatic source. "She is under enormous pressure from both camps."

Gabon’s ‘longest day’

Friday marks the expiry of a 15-day deadline for the court to resolve the electoral dispute, but the announcement could still be delayed until Saturday.

The small west African nation of 1.8 million people has been deeply split by violent protests that erupted after Bongo was declared the winner.

In his legal challenge, Ping asked for a recount in Haut-Ogooue province, a stronghold of the Bongo family who have ruled Gabon since 1967. Bongo won more than 95 percent of votes there on a declared turnout of more than 99 percent.

Following the poll, EU election observers said there had been a "clear anomaly" in the results from the province.

The situation in Libreville was tense as people awaited the court's decision, with officers in riot gear, prepared to head off any more unrest should the judges decide against Ping.

Locals were stockpiling food to last through the weekend should the streets be manned with checkpoints.

“The people of Gabon are living one of the longest days in their history,” said FRANCE 24’s Amoko. “The suspense is unbearable”.

Ping's supporters say "more than 50" people were killed in post-electoral violence last month, but the interior ministry has put the toll at three dead.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2016-09-23


    Families seek relatives missing in Gabon’s post-electoral crisis

    Read more


    Gabon opposition leader files vote complaint with constitutional court

    Read more


    Gabon warns opposition against violence as court examines election appeal

    Read more