Gabon Court to Recount Disputed Vote Results, Ambassador Says

Updated on
  • Ambassador to the U.S. announces decision in open letter
  • Refusal to recount led to resignation of justice minister

Gabon’s Constitutional Court will recount the ballots cast in presidential elections last month following days of violent protests against the outcome that showed President Ali Bongo won by fewer than 10,000 votes, according to the nation’s ambassador to the U.S.

“A recount of the vote will be completed by the Constitutional Court and the winner confirmed,” Michael Moussa-Adamo said in a letter late Monday to the New York Times. “The State Department and the African Union stated that any challenge to the election results conform to Gabonese election law. The Constitutional Court’s review will also conform to the law.” He didn’t say when the recount will take place.

Protesters in Libreville

Photographer: Marco Longari/AFP via Getty Images

Protesters burned down parliament and other state offices after the electoral commission announced Bongo won the election with 49.8 percent of the vote, against 48.2 percent for opposition leader Jean Ping. Bongo’s victory was due to the tally in his home province, where 99.93 percent of registered voters cast ballots. Opposition parties immediately rejected the result, saying the turnout wasn’t plausible. Ping asked the Constitutional Court earlier this month for a recount.

Looting, Arson

Authorities arrested about 800 people during the protests, half of whom have been released, Gabon’s prosecutor said in a statement published by the Interior Ministry on Tuesday. Among those still in detention, 70 have been charged with allegations ranging from looting to arson, according to the statement.

Justice Minister Seraphin Moundounga resigned on Sept. 6 because the government refused to publish the votes cast in each polling station and didn’t allow a recount of the vote. He has since fled to France, saying he received death threats.

The U.S. and the European Union have urged Gabon to publish the results per polling station, rather than for the nine provinces.