Gabon opposition candidate decries high court ruling

Gabon's opposition leader Jean Ping has rejected a ruling by the Constitutional Court that upheld the victory of President Ali Bongo in August's presidential election, which was mired by claims of voter fraud.

The country's electoral commission declared President Ali Bongo Ondimba the victor of the vote, sparking violent protests among supporters of opposition candidate Jean Ping.

"I have to say that it is rare that the choice of reversal (of the vote results) is used", she said, with Ping supporters saying it showed she was biased.

Bongo took 50.66% of the vote against 47.24% for Ping, the court ruled, putting his margin at 11 000 - higher than the less than 6 000 initially announced.

During more than four decades in power, Omar Bongo cultivated close relations with a string of French presidents.

Ping, a lifelong political insider in Gabon who has also served as chairman of the African Union Commission, was in meetings with advisors on Saturday and declined to comment directly on the court ruling. A court decision is due by September 23.

"I look forward to inviting members of all political parties to join our efforts and come with us to the cabinet", Bongo told Reuters in an interview.

Ali Bongo was first elected in 2009 after the death of his father, Omar Bongo.

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The 57-year-old victor, however, appealed for "political dialogue" with the opposition groups to stem any potential unrest triggered after the court announcement.

The election has drawn unwelcome scrutiny on Bongo, whose family has ruled the oil-producing country for nearly half a century.

The court, in a ruling broadcast on state TV around midnight on Friday, declared the request by opposition leader Jean Ping invalid on technical grounds.

At least six people died in clashes after the result was announced.

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

Worldwide observers had raised doubts about results in one Bongo stronghold where he won 95 percent of the vote and turnout was reported to be 99.9 percent.

A European Union observer mission also noted anomalies in the province's results.

  • Sonia Alvarado