45 challenges to Gabon's poll results

2012-01-03 08:08

Libreville - Gabon's Constitutional Court has received 45 demands from both the opposition and the ruling party for the annulment of results of December 17 elections, court officials said on Monday.

"In all, 45 challenges were filed. There can be no others. The deadline has passed," one court source told AFP. The deadline in the equatorial African country was midnight on Saturday.

"Hearings will begin in the next few days," another court source said.

Oil-rich Gabon has long been ruled by the Gabonese Democratic Party, which won 114 of the 120 seats in the National Assembly and backs President Ali Bongo Ondimba.

According to the daily L'Union, the Centre of Liberal Reformers, led by prominent former minister Jean Boniface Assele, which took only one seat, has contested the outcome in 16 constituencies.

The Union of the Gabonese People (UPG), which is one of the main opposition parties, won no seats in the election, as against seven in the outgoing assembly, and has made eight challenges to the outcome.

Some of the opposition boycotted the poll in the absence of biometric tools to prevent cheating. The UPG spoke of "massive fraud" and entered the campaign late after long calling for a boycott.

In his New Year's wishes to the nation, Bongo thanked the electorate for his party's sweeping victory. "I have taken the full measure of your backing for our plans for society. [...] You have given me the necessary majority to speed up reforms and implement the measures needed for a developing Gabon."

The PDG itself has challenged the outcome in six constituencies where it was beaten by the Rally for Gabon party of a former opposition leader who has gone over to the regime, ex-deputy prime minister Paul Mba Abessole.