Several members of Gabon’s election commission, known as Cenap, say the supervising body has approved the victory of incumbent President Ali Bongo over challenger Jean Ping. Cenap officials said on Wednesday that the vote count that had been disputed by delegates from Ping’s camp was approved after a secret ballot by members of the election commission.
One delegate to the commission said “the opposition abstained” from its claims. He would not elaborate. There was no official comment from Ping or his supporters. Earlier reports in the media said Bongo had won 49.9 percent of the votes nationwide, narrowly defeating Ping’s 48.2 percent, or a tiny margin of only 5,594 votes.
The main bone of contention was the result in the Haut-Ogooue, one of Gabon’s nine provinces and the main base of support for Bongo. According to initial estimates, Bongo had won 95.5 percent of the votes in the province, with a turnout of 99.9 percent. Ping, a 73-year-old career diplomat well-known on the international scene, claimed victory right after the votes closed on August 27.
“I have been elected. I am waiting for the outgoing president to call to congratulate me,” Ping said, adding, “As I speak, the trends show we have won.” He had accused Bongo’s camp of fraud and cheating, saying they were trying to create instability in Gabon by raising baseless allegations against their rival camp.
Bongo, 57, has been in power since disputed elections in 2009. The tiny Central African country, which is rich in oil, had been ruled by Bongo’s father, Omar, for more than four decades. Gabon’s interior minister was expected to give a nationwide television address to officially endorse Bongo’s re-election.