Voters in Gabon have been electing a successor to President Omar Bongo who died in June after leading his country for 41 years.
The late leader’s son, 50-year-old Ali Ben Bongo, candidate for the ruling Gabonese Democratic party, the PDG, is favourite to succeed him. Bongo has pledged a return to the level of prosperity the nation enjoyed during his father’s stint in charge. Tension remained high as 3,000 polling booths across the country were put under guard. At least one man with an illegal voting guard was saved from a lynch mob in the capital Libreville. Gabon is sub-Saharan Africa’s fourth biggest oil producer although most of its 1.4 million people live in poverty. Ali Ben Bongo, a former defence minister in his father’s regime, looked set for an easy victory until the fractured opposition formed a united front under Andre Mba Obame, to challenge him. At least five out of 23 opposition candidates have pulled out of the contest and pledged to back Obame.