Rival candidate in Gabon’s presidential election are claiming victory as counting nears completion.Preliminary results have been delayed and the authorities have appealed for calm in response to the conflicting victory claims. Ahead of the vote Ali Ben Bongo was tipped to win and succeed his father Omar Bongo as head of the central African state. He died aged 73 in June, after nearly 42 years at the helm But his son faced a late surge by the main opposition Pierre Mamboundou, who vowed to prevent a dynastic transfer of power. The late president is accused by his opponents of having lavished the country’s oil wealth on family and friends. He was under investigation at the time of his death. Analysts say any successor will have to cope with dwindling oil reserves that account for half of the former French colony’s output. Gabon has exported oil since the 1960s but much of the country has seen little benefit. About one-third of Gabonese live in poverty.