Clashes have erupted in Gabon following an announcement that incumbent President Ali Bongo is the winner of contested weekend elections. Several hundred supporters of Jean Ping, Gabon’s main opposition presidential candidate, attempted to storm the offices of the election commission in the capital Libreville on Wednesday, shortly after authorities announced Bongo’s re-election by a narrow majority.
Angry protesters chanted slogans such as “Ali must go!” as they clashed with security forces in the area. Police used stun grenades and tear gas to stop them from reaching the headquarters of the election commission. Bongo was declared the winner of the August 27 vote, in a result that risks inflaming tensions across the country.
Turnout was 59.46 percent nationwide but soared to 99.93 percent in Haut-Ogooue, the heartland of Bongo’s Teke ethnic group, where he won 95.5 percent of votes. Both candidates had predicted a victory in the lead-up to the results with Ping, 73, accusing Bongo of fraud.
Opposition delegates in the electoral commission boycotted a vote to approve the results on Wednesday. The opposition has vowed to fight for a recount. “It’s going to be difficult to get people to accept these results,” AFP quoted an unnamed member of the electoral commission as saying, adding, “We’ve never seen results like these, even during the father’s time.”
Bongo and the electoral commission have come under pressure from fellow politicians and the international community to deliver a fair outcome. Faustin Boukoubi, the ruling party’s number two, also broke ranks, calling for “fundamentally credible results” in order to maintain peace.
The European Union and the French Foreign Ministry have called for the electoral commission to show impartiality. “The European Union repeats the call made by the head of its observer mission that results should be published for each polling booth,” a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said in a statement.