EU observers have urged Gabon’s electoral commission to make sure that the votes in the last weekend’s presidential elections are counted “with transparency and speed“ while the incumbent President Ali Bongo is aspiring for a second term. Ali Bongo is the son of the former President, Omar Bongo, who had ruled the country for 41 years until he passed away in 2009.
However, Ali Bongo has a credible challenger, Jean Ping, who had been supported by a prominent part of the opposition, which may jeopardize Mr Bongo’s chance for a straightforward re-election for another seven years in the office. The vote is decided by a simple majority after a single round. There are increasing concerns in the international community that the election could spark unrest in the country as was the case following Mr Bongo’s 2009 victory against Andre Mba Obame. The 2009 unrest saw several people killed and buildings looted. Earlier in August, the United Nations, the EU, and the US appealed for a peaceful, free and fair vote.
“It’s essential that political figures favor dialogue and negotiation and refrain from all incitement to violence, to hatred or the stigmatization of certain communities,” the embassies of four major EU members and the United States said in a joint statement. “It is also essential that national and international norms in fundamental freedoms and human rights be respected, notably in the maintenance of law and order,” they added. The statement was also signed by the representatives of the EU delegation, the UN Secretary General for Central Africa and the International Organization of La Francophonie.