France’s foreign minister has said the constitutional court of Gabon must examine a challenge to the country’s presidential election by opposition candidate Jean Ping.
“France continues to follow carefully developments in Gabon,” Jean-Marc Ayrault said in a statement. “The constitutional court has been asked to examine the provisional presidential results.
“It must examine these with transparency and impartiality and all means must be put in place to ensure the respect of its principles and establishment of the sincerity of the vote.”
President Ali Bongo was declared the winner of the disputed vote in the central African nation, but Ping says he is the president, based on his own compilation of results.
Both candidates have accused the other of fraud.
Hinting at a return to street protests, Ping said: “If … the Gabonese people don’t accept the constitutional court’s decision [if it rules against a recount], the people will assume their responsibility, and I will stand by their side,” Ping said.
Gabon: A Family Affair— BBC Africa (@BBCAfrica) September 8, 2016
How are the main players in the election power struggle related to former leader Omar Bongo? pic.twitter.com/RsehlOIjgZ
Bongo was first elected seven years ago after the death of his father Omar. He had ruled the former French colony for forty-two years.
Ali Bongo told a Paris radio interviewer the Constitutional court will decide whether a recount should take place.
“I have already shown that I am a democrat, and that I am in favour of the Constitutional Court taking up the case and confirming my election victory. That’s what I am expecting,” Bongo said.
Shops and homes have been looted in the capital Libreville and other cities.
Ping says between 50 and 100 people have died in unrest since the results were announced, far more than the government’s death toll of six.
Capturing the powerful images of Gabon's unrest 📻 https://t.co/qtAfr4c4J4
mlongari</a> <a href="https://t.co/Mk7W5OrpHF">pic.twitter.com/Mk7W5OrpHF</a></p>— BBC Africa (BBCAfrica) September 8, 2016