Opponents of Gabon's Bongo face deadline for poll challenge

Gabon's president Ali Bongo Ondimba

President Bongo has resisted calls for a recount and shrugged off reports of irregularities from European Union election observers. "If we are raising anomalies, we have to be clear, balanced and raise all the anomalies that have been noted", Bongo told France's RTL radio, in an interview broadcast on Wednesday. I can not violate the law.

At Upper Ougoue, a participation rate of 99.9 percent placed Ali Bongo 5.594 votes ahead of Jean Ping.

"There is no doubt that if the Constitutional Court ignores the reality of the Gabonese vote, the people, who would have nothing left to lose. will take the future into their own hands", said Ping, who continues to refer to himself as "president-elect". The deadline for doing so is 1500 GMT on Thursday.

"We noticed anomalies in the Haut Ogooue province concerning the turnout figure that was announced at the provincial level".

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Mr Bongo is under increasing pressure at home and overseas after Justice Minister Seraphin Moundounga resigned on Monday demanding a recount "polling station by polling station".

That outcome prompted several days of riots amid opposition claims the election had been stolen.

Mr Ping, 73, has called for a general strike but the appeal seems to have gone largely unheeded. At least six have been killed, but Ping this week put the death toll at between 50 and 100, a number that could not be independently verified.

"Yes, I greatly fear that another false step by the Constitutional Court will be the cause of deep and long-lasting instability in Gabon", Ping told hundreds of supporters in Libreville.

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Deadly violence erupted in the capital, Libreville, last week after official results showed President Bongo beating Ping by about 6,000 votes nationwide. Bongo, whose family has been in power for almost 50 years in the African nation, was declared president until 2025.

"If. the Gabonese people don't accept the constitutional court's decision [in Bongo's favour], the people will assume their responsibility, and I will stand by their side", Ping said. Gabon's justice minister has resigned over the government's refusal to recount the ballots.

Gabon, a country roughly the size of Britain but with a population of 1.8 million, has only known three presidents since it won independence from France in 1960.

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