Challenger cries foul in Gabon poll

Libreville – The candidate hoping to unseat Ali Bongo in Gabon's presidential election on Saturday alleged a biased court ruling had opened the way to fraud because it allowed soldiers and police to vote several times.

Jean Ping's campaign manager said the Constitutional Court had on Friday – the eve of the vote – "authorised soldiers to vote outside of areas where they are registered and (authorised) supplementary voter lists for them."

"This is a flagrant violation of election law" which opens the way to fraud, Jean Gaspard Ntoutoume Ayi said in a statement.

He added that it would allow members of the security forces "to vote several times in several polling centres by registering on several supplementary lists."

"There are no computerised links between the different polling stations," the statement said.

Ping's campaign "condemns in the strongest terms this new attempt by the Constitutional Court to come to the rescue of the dying Bongo/PDG system," it said, referring to the ruling Democratic Party of Gabon.

Bongo came to power in an election in 2009, the year his father, Omar Bongo died after 41 years in power.

The court said the deployment of security forces across the country during the election, often away from their usual posts, justified its ruling.

Soldiers and police officers in Gabon are traditionally seen as being close to those in power.

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