Polls have opened within the oil-rich central African nation of Gabon the place President Ali Bongo – who got here to energy when his father Omar died in 2009 – is hoping to win a 3rd time period.
He faces competitors from 13 individuals.
“Gabon is just not the property of the Bongos,” says rival candidate Albert Ondo Ossa, who hopes he can lead the Alternance 2023 coalition to victory regardless of solely being appointed final week.
As in earlier basic elections, there are severe issues concerning the course of.
Each of Mr Bongo’s prior wins had been disputed as fraudulent by opponents, and this time round controversial adjustments have been made to the poll papers simply weeks earlier than election day.
For the primary time, voters are being requested to mark a single poll with their alternative of a president and MP who should belong to the identical social gathering.
Consultants say this disadvantages impartial candidates – notably Mr Ondo Ossa, who heads the opposition Alternance 2023 alliance however lacks a celebration of his personal.
Albert Ondo Ossa, 69, is a revered former training minister
International media have been banned from setting foot within the nation to cowl Saturday’s vote, says the marketing campaign group Reporters With out Borders.
No worldwide election screens from the EU or UN can be current both.
Native civil society group Tournons La Web page say they are going to attempt to act as observers regardless of having no official accreditation.
Earlier than Saturday’s vote a row erupted with President Bongo accusing Mr Ondo Ossa and one other opposition determine of treason.
The pair deny claims that they had been recorded plotting methods to create an influence battle in Gabon and win assist from overseas powers, and so they have accused the federal government of “shameful manipulation” in a press release launched by Alternance 2023.
In addition to voting for his or her alternative of president and MPs, the individuals of Gabon are additionally selecting mayors and native councillors.
Gabon has a complete inhabitants of two.3 million individuals and enjoys oil wealth and wealthy swathes of rainforest.
However the international financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has led to declining exports of uncooked supplies.