President Ali Bongo aims for third term

The vote was held in the oil-rich Central African country of Gabon, where President Ali Bongo, who came to power after his father Omar died in 2009, hopes to win a third term.

It faces a competition of 13 people.

As the polls closed, the government announced a curfew and suspension of internet access for security reasons.

On Saturday, main opposition candidate Albert Ondo Ossa complained that many ballot boxes did not contain ballot papers bearing his name.

“Gabon is not the property of the Bongos,” he said on his campaign tour.

Mr Ondo Ossa, a former professor of economics and one term education minister, was appointed leader of the Alternative 2023 coalition just last week.

The coalition says some of the names that have withdrawn from the presidential race are still on the ballot.

As in the previous general elections, there are serious concerns about the process.

Both of Mr Bongo’s previous wins allegedly fraudulent by competitorsand this time controversial changes were made to the voting papers just weeks before election day.

For the first time, voters were asked to mark the president and the deputy of the same party in a single vote of their own choice.

Experts say this puts the independent candidates at a disadvantage, especially Mr Ondo Ossa, who heads the main opposition coalition but does not have his own party.

Albert Ondo Ossa.

Albert Ondo Ossa (69) is a respected former education minister.

The Reporters Without Borders campaign group says foreign media are banned from entering the country to follow Saturday’s vote.

No international election observers from the EU or the UN were present at the meeting.

Local civil society group Tournons La Page said they would try to act as observers, although it does not have official accreditation.

Delays were reported at some polling stations, and with polling closed, the government declared a Sunday evening curfew and said internet access was suspended across the country.

Communications Minister Rodrigue Mboumba Bissawou said the measures were aimed at countering “calls for violence and misinformation”.

A debate broke out before Saturday’s vote, when President Bongo accused Mr. Ondo Ossa and another opposition figure of treason.

The two deny allegations that they are plotting ways to create a power struggle in Gabon and gain the support of foreign powers, and accuse the government of “shameful manipulation” in a statement released by Alternance 2023.

In addition to electing the president and deputies, the people of Gabon also elected mayors and local councillors.

Gabon has a total population of 2.3 million and is rich in oil and rich rainforests.

However, the global economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic led to a decrease in raw material exports.

In 2018, President Bongo suffered a stroke that left him on the sidelines for almost a year, prompting calls to step aside.

A failed coup attempt the following year He saw that the rebellious soldiers were sent to prison.

Additional reporting by Paul Njie

Leave a Reply