Gabon Court Upholds President Bongo’s Victory in Disputed Vote

Gabon’s Constitutional Court upheld President Ali Bongo’s victory in elections last month, following a complaint by the opposition that a recount was needed because the outcome had been rigged.

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. Instead, the court honored Bongo’s request that the results of 21 polling stations be canceled, awarding him a higher percentage of votes.

Bongo received 51 percent of ballots cast, said Marie-Madeleine Mborantsuo, president of the court, from 49 percent previously announced by the electoral commission.

The ruling shouldn’t come as a surprise because Gabon’s political and electoral system is “skewed toward the long-standing ruling party,” Cailin Birch, a political analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit, said in e-mailed comments. “This was the only possible recourse for the opposition, however,” she said.

The oil-producing central African nation has been governed by Bongo since he won a 2009 vote, succeeding his father, Omar Bongo, who clung to power for 42 years and was the world’s longest-ruling president when he died in office.

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