Gabonese Opposition Disputes Bongo’s Candidacy for Re-Election

  • Bongo among about 20 presidential candidates for August poll
  • Opposition claims Bongo born outside oil-rich nation

Gabonese opposition parties submitted more than 2,500 complaints over President Ali Bongo’s decision to run for re-election next month, including allegations that he was adopted and born abroad, and therefore not eligible to lead the oil-producing nation.

Bongo, 57, won a first term in 2009 after the death of his father Omar Bongo, who ruled Gabon from 1967. His application for re-election was among about 20 other bids for candidacy submitted before the midnight deadline on July 12, Rene Aboghe Ella, head of the electoral commission, told reporters in Libreville, the capital.

Gabon’s constitution prohibits candidates born outside the country from standing for president. Bongo has always dismissed claims that he was adopted.

Bongo admitted “he had produced a fake birth certificate” in 2009, said Alexandre Barro Chambrier, head of the Heritage et Modernite opposition party, after filing about 1,100 complaints with the electoral commission. “Did he present the same birth certificate, or has he presented another?”

Union National, another opposition party, filed about 1,500 complaints. Among the candidates are Jean Ping, an erstwhile aid of Bongo’s father and former chairman of the African Union, and past prime ministers Casimir Oye Mba and Raymond Ndong Sima, Aboghe said.

Gabon will head to the polls on August 27 as the country seeks to lessen its dependency on oil, which accounts for 85 percent of the nation’s exports and half its revenue.

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