Defiant Gabon President Hits Back At EU Poll Criticism

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Defiant Gabon president hits back at EU poll criticism

PARIS, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News -7th Sept,2016) : Gabon's Ali Bongo on Wednesday rejected criticism of his disputed presidential election victory, accusing EU observers of bias towards his rival and insisting that only the country's top court could order a recount.

Oil-rich Gabon has been in turmoil since the August 27 poll, in which Bongo's rival Jean Ping also claimed victory. Several people have been killed in violence triggered by the results, which showed Bongo winning a second term by a wafer-thin margin of some 6,000 votes.

On Tuesday, an EU election observer team reported a "clear anomaly" in voting in Haut-Ogooue province, Bongo's heartland. Official results gave turnout in the province at more than 99 percent, with 95 percent backing the incumbent.

Reacting to the criticism, Bongo, 57, told France's RTL radio: "I would also have liked them to have noted some anomalies in the fiefdom of Mr Ping. "If we're raising anomalies, we have to be clear, balanced and raise all the anomalies that have been noted.

" The opposition has accused Bongo of rigging the vote and called for a recount -- a call echoed by Manuel Valls, prime minister of Gabon's former colonial power France.

A defiant Bongo ruled out any new tally unless the Constitutional Court ordered one. "I cannot violate the (electoral) law," he insisted. "African governments are often accused of not respecting the law.

For once we're respecting the law and we're being told to circumvent it, it's strange," he said. Ping has yet to announce whether he will challenge the election in the Constitutional Court. The deadline for doing so is 1500 GMT on Thursday.

In their analysis, the EU election monitors said the number of non-voters and of blank and disqualified votes revealed a "clear anomaly in the final results in Haut-Ogooue." In an interview with Europe 1 radio, Bongo accused the EU observers of "overstepping their mandate" and said he too was preparing to challenge some of the results.