Opposition Cries Foul As Gabon’s Ruler Declared Election Victor
LIBREVILLE, Gabon (AP) _ President Omar Bongo, who has ruled Gabon with absolute power for 26 years, won weekend presidential elections by 51 percent - just enough to avoid a run- off, the government said Thursday.
His foes cried foul, and tanks and troops patrolled the streets.
Last Sunday’s elections were the first in this west-central African nation with more than one presidential candidate. For weeks Bongo’s opponents accused him of rigging the voting. He in turn accused them of similar cheating.
For the past four days, protesters have staged daily marches in the capital to protest the piecemeal publication of results that at times gave Bongo ridiculous leads.
Opposition Radio Liberte announced Wednesday that Bongo’s chief rival, Roman Catholic priest Paul Mba Abessole, had won the election.
On Thursday, Pierre Andre Kombila, director of Abessole’s campaign, declared, ″Bongo is mad, completely mad. He’s scared to go to a second round because our figures give 37 percent to Bongo and 32 percent to Abessole.″
Results announced by the minister of territorial administration, Antoine Mboumbou Miyakou, gave Bongo 51 percent of the votes and Abessole 27 percent.
″Our security forces are on alert,″ Defense Minister Martin Fidele Magnaga told reporters after the results were announced.
Kombila, who is also on the national commission counting votes, said the official results were announced before vote-counting was finished.
A run-off was set for Dec. 19 if none of the 13 candidates won more than 50 percent of votes.
International observers like the U.S. African American Institute have said chaos surrounding the elections promoted fraud.