Gabon Presidential Election: Ping Asks Bongo To Acknowledge Defeat

Gabon Presidential Election, Ali Bongo, Jean PingGabon opposition candidate Jean Ping has called on President Ali Bongo on Monday to “acknowledge his defeat” in Saturday’s presidential election.

After publishing numbers on Sunday that showed him comfortably in the lead based on a small percentage of votes, Ping called on Bongo to step down.

“I encourage Ali Bongo to submit to the verdict of the ballot box,” he told a news conference, without providing more voting figures.

Bongo’s camp also says it is set to win and has accused Ping’s supporters of fraud.

On Twitter, his spokesman Alain Claude Bilie By NzĂ© called Ping’s news conference “the start of an odious attempt at a coup de force”.

Gabonese law forbids candidates from publishing their own results before the official count, expected on Tuesday.

The country’s interior minister called Ping’s move to pre-empt an official announcement of the poll results by declaring victory an attempt to manipulate the democratic process.

Gabon’s one-round election means the winner simply requires more votes than any other candidate. In 2009, Bongo won with 41.73 percent of the vote.

Bongo, 57, won election in the Central African nation of some 2 million people in 2009 following the death of his father Omar, who was president for 42 years.

But he has come under pressure in recent years as a sharp drop in oil prices and production have squeezed the budget and provided fodder for opposition claims that average Gabonese have struggled under his leadership.

Some opposition supporters have also called into question Bongo’s Gabonese nationality by claiming he was adopted from eastern Nigeria as a baby, which the president denies.

On Monday, Ping called on the Gabonese people to “defend their choice throughout the country and overseas”. He said he had told the American and French ambassadors in Libreville that he intended to guarantee the security of Bongo and his family.

The streets of Libreville remained calm despite the sparring over the result and an acrimonious election campaign.

A European Union observer mission told reporters in Libreville on Monday that it had registered irregularities during campaigning and on election day.

“The mission deplores the lack of transparency of the bodies running the election,” said Mariya Gabriel, the head of an E.U. mission that observed the elections.

It said that most irregularities had benefited Bongo, including preferential access to state media and resources.

African Leaders Meet For Giants Club Elephant Summit

Elephant SummitAfrican leaders will meet in Kenya on Friday to discuss how to save the continent’s elephants from extinction.

The inaugural summit of the so-called giants club will be led by the Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta.

As well as heads of state, the conservation group will bring together business leaders and scientists.

Experts say Africa’s elephant population has fallen by 90% over the past century and warn that the animal could be extinct within decades.

Among those expected to attend the summit are Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni and President Ali Bongo from the West African nation of Gabon.

After the summit, Kenya will set fire to nearly its entire confiscated stock of ivory, 105 tonnes, and equivalent to the tusks of more than 6,700 elephants.