LIBREVILLE Oct 13 – Gabon’s Constitutional Court confirmed Ali Bongo’s disputed presidential election victory after reviewing challenges from nine candidates, the court president said.
"The election of Mr. Ali Bongo Ondimba as president of the Gabonese Republic is confirmed," said chief justice Marie Madeleine Mborantsuo.
The court had studied 11 requests for August’s election, which opponents claim was rigged, to be annulled.
The court, which carried out a vote recount at the end of September, said Ali Bongo, the son of veteran leader Omar Bongo Ondimba who died in June after 41 years in power, was the winner of the election with 41.79 percent of the ballot.
In second place with 25.64 percent of the vote was veteran opposition leader Pierre Mamboundou, who originally had been named third place finisher.
In third, was the former second-place contender Andre Mba Obame, with 25.33 percent.
Results announced by the court on September 4 had given Bongo 41.73 percent of the vote followed by Mba Obame with 25.88 percent and Mamboundou with 25.22 percent.
The court rejected 11 requests from nine candidates and one citizen that the election be annulled.
Before the court’s verdict was delivered, Mba Obame began a protest hunger strike, claiming Gabon was the victim of an "electoral coup d’etat," his supporters said in a statement.
Mba Obame, a former interior minister, said in the statement his hunger strike would continue "for as long as intimidation, force and violence is used as the sole means to settle the serious socio-political crisis Gabon is currently going through."
"I am ready to sacrifice my life so that Gabon will not sink into dictatorship, civil war and genocide," he said.
Under the constitution, the court needed to resolve the electoral dispute by October 20.
After the court’s verdict, Faustin Boukoubi, secretary general of Ali Bongo’s Gabonese Democratic Party, said he had "a feeling of full satisfaction."
"Right and the law have prevailed," he said.
"All Gabonese have a president who will get down to all the problems of the Gabonese people and make Gabon into an emerging country."
When the results of the August 30 election were announced, riots shook the country’s economic capital Port-Gentil in early September. The government said three people were killed, while the opposition spoke of up to 15 deaths.