Oil-rich Gabon goes to polls in delayed legislative election
Libreville — Oil-rich Gabon, ruled by one political dynasty for nearly half a century, votes on Saturday in long-delayed legislative and municipal polls after a presidential election two years ago was marred by fatal violence and allegations of fraud.
After President Ali Bongo was re-elected controversially in August 2016 by just a few thousand votes, opposition leader Jean Ping claimed that victory had been stolen from him. Violence broke out and dozens of people were killed, according to the opposition, but the government says only four died.
Ping’s headquarters was bombed, and the opposition also claimed that widespread human rights abuses were committed by militias that took to the streets. However, ahead of this weekend’s vote, pushed back three times since 2016, the campaign was low key. Posters dotted the capital Libreville, calling on the country’s 680,000 voters to turn up to elect 143 new MPs and other local politicians.
Gabon’s oil-dependent economy has been hit by falling crude prices.
The opposition, which rallied around Ping in 2016, is now fractured, easing the way for the ruling Gabonese Democratic Party.