France calls for recount of Gabon presidential election results

There are enough questions about the outcome of last week's Gabonese elections - which saw President Ali Bongo extend his family's 49-year rule in the country - that a recount is necessary, said French Prime Minister Manuel Valls Tuesday.

Bongo, 57, won re-election by a narrow margin, with 49.8 per cent of votes, followed by his main rival Jean Ping, with 48.23 per cent. Ping has refused to concede defeat.

"The European observers on the ground (...) have expressed their criticism on the basis of objective facts," Valls told French radio station RTL. "Wisdom would demand a recount of the results."

Gabon was once a colony of France.

France, the European Union as well as the United States already called last week on the electoral commission to publish detailed results of all polling stations.

Former Gabonese justice minister Moundounga Seraphin Tuesday supported international demands for a recount.

“Refusing [a recount] could potentially push people towards a revolt,” Seraphin told Radio France Internationale (RFI) a day after he announced his resignation from government and the ruling party.

“Peace is seriously threatened in our country, security is seriously threatened,” the former minister warned.

France expressed concern for the safety of the 15,000 French citizens currently in the Central African country. About 15 French citizens are currently missing in Gabon, many of whom carry dual citizenship, Valls said.

Violence broke out in oil-rich but poverty-stricken Gabon hours after the electoral commission released the results of the August 27 polls.

Opposition activists accused the government of fraud and attacked the area around the parliament in the capital, Libreville. Security forces responded by attacking the opposition’s headquarters, killing two people and injuring several others.

Bongo was elected for a first term in disputed 2009 polls following the death of his father Omar Bongo Ondimba, who had ruled Gabon since 1967.

Last update: Tue, 06/09/2016 - 15:01
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