August 27TH 2016 presidential Election Day in Gabon raised a lot of tension. The incumbent president Ali Bongo Ondimba contested against some tough challengers who have tried every technicality to make his re-election almost impossible.
Having validated his candidacy against all odds by the electoral commission, Ali Bongo Ondimba began the presidential race with 13 other candidates among whom is Mr Jean Ping, the former president of African Union Commission. After one week of rigorous campaign by candidates and political parties involve in the race, other political heavyweight in Gabon who are also aspirants in the presidential race got rallied to Mr Jean Ping to form a formidable front against the incumbent president. They include Mr Casimir Oye Mba a former prime minister of Gabon and Mr Guy Nzouba Ndama, a former speaker of Gabon National Assembly. Few days before the election two other aspirants namely Leon Paul Ngoulakia and Roland Desire Aba A’ Minko also rallied the group of Mr Jean Ping.
The animosity and xenophobic utterances in the pre-election campaigns of candidates of opposition parties gave lots of suspense to the nation social circle especially among foreigners living in the country. To this end, many foreigners fled the country to avoid degeneration of chaos because they have always been victims of political pandemonium in Gabon. Many Gabonese also fled the cities to the hinterland because of fear.
Ali Bongo Ondimba pledged for peace in the country, and also assured the population of transparency in the election. About 1300 local and international election observers were accredited to monitor the election. They include observers from European Union, African Union and other organizations. At the end, the election was adjudged free and fair with very few irregularities observed.
Few hours after the franchise, suspense hit the nation when a private television station ‘Radio Television Nazareth’ started to roll out election results. With this development Mr Jean Ping made a live broadcast on the television the next day to claim victory of the election based on the available results despite the fact that some results were still pending. The pending results include that of Haut Ogooue which is the stronghold and natal province of the incumbent president.
In reaction to this development, the camp of Ali Bongo Ondimba through the Minister of Communication also made a contradictory press conference to refute the claim of Mr Jean Ping. According to the minister, Ali Bongo Ondimba was leading by figures in the available comparing facts but he charged that only the minister of interior of Gabon was capable to pronounce election results. The reactions from the two camps put the population in anxiety and worry.
Finally, on Tuesday 30th August 2016 at exactly 3.30 pm, the result of the presidential election was announced in a live broadcast in the National Television Station by the minister of interior giving victory to the incumbent president Ali Bongo Ondimba with a score of 49.80( over Mr Jean Ping who polled 48.23(. In other words, Mr Jean Ping was claiming victory of an inconclusive election.
The announcement of the election result provoked some opprobrium in every city of Gabon. Protesters trooped to the streets in their hundreds to vandalize public edifices and looted stores alleged to belong to foreign nationals. The National Assembly Complex among others was set ablaze. The country social and economic activities were paralyzed for days as inhabitants remained indoors because of fear of victimization. About three people were reported dead by the Gabonese authority during the violence with several others seriously wounded. Many were pronounced to have been arrested by the police.
France, the U.S and other international organizations have called to appease the situation in Gabon because Gabon is a peaceful country known in the sub region. War is alien to Gabon. The situation is left for Gabon justice to decide now that the duos have taken their grievances to court to seek redress.
*Koko Benson is Blank NEWS Online Correspondent In Gabon.
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