Gabon has a new president : the son of it’s late leader Omar Bongo. Ali Ben Bongo (photo, from bbc.co.uk) won almost 42% of the votes, while his nearest rival won 26%.
For four decades, the oil-rich nation has been ruled by Omar Bongo, until his death last June. His son’s victory was expected.
However critics say the vote was fixed in order to ensure a dynastic succession.
In the country’s capital, Libreville, activists and security forces have been fighting amid widespread unrest.
Even though police used teargas and batons to disperse hundreds of opposition activists, disturbances have continued. Crowds of activists broke into a prison and freed hundreds of inmates in the second city of Port-Gentil. (photo, from aljazeera.net)
The crowds then set fire to France’s consular building in Port-Gentil, according to AFP news agency.
Less linked to France
The presidential election has been mired in controversy. The announcement of results has been delayed because of a misunderstanding between election officials over how to verify the votes.
After Sunday’s poll, all three main candidates declared victory and another one started a hunger strike in order to protest against what he saw as irregularities in the election process.
Yet when Communications Minister Laure Olga Gondjout announced Mr Bongo’s victory, she said it was a “victory for the Gabonese people”.
“I salute his courage because at the beginning nothing would have suggested he was going to win,” she said.
Though the vote was generally peaceful, it was tense. Long queues of voters waited to choose Omar Bongo’s successor.
Gabon’s late president owned a string of properties in France and was one of the world’s richest men. He denied corruption charges in French courts.
Although Omar Bonga was an unflinching ally of France and a key element in French influence in Central Africa, BBC Africa analyst Martin Plaut says that Ali Ben Bongo is seen as less closely linked to the French elite than his father, despite being educated at the Sorbonne.
Even though most of Gabon 1.4 million people live in poverty, the country is sub-Saharan Africa’s fourth biggest oil producer and Africa’s second biggest wood exporter.