September 27, 2009 / 4:50 PM / 10 years ago

Gabon court says will recount Bongo vote Tuesday

LIBREVILLE, Sept 27 (Reuters) - Gabon’s top court will stage a recount of the votes cast in Aug. 30’s contested presidential election, the court’s most senior official said on Sunday.

Ali Ben Bongo, ruling party candidate and son of the oil-producing central African country’s former leader, won the vote, but opposition figures immediately denounced the poll as fraudulent, and violent protests briefly flared up.

The two main anti-Bongo candidates, former interior minister Andre Mba Obame and Pierre Mamboundou, who both polled around 25 percent to Bongo’s 41.7 percent, went to the court to appeal against Bongo’s victory earlier this month.

A recount will begin on Tuesday, said court president Marie Madeleine Mborantsuo.

“The members of the court have ruled that they can go ahead with recounting the votes in the presence of officials designated by the applicants,” she said, speaking on Radio France International.

President-elect Bongo has been touring central Africa and meeting heads of state in the region, but has not yet been sworn in pending the outcome of the legal challenge to his victory.

The court, which many say is controlled by Bongo supporters, has already endorsed his victory, and most observers consider it highly unlikely to reverse that position.

Former colonial power France and other poll observers have said election procedures were broadly acceptable and there seems to be scant appetite internationally to call for a re-run.

French energy firm Total (TOTF.PA), one of the biggest investors in the country, was targeted by some of the anti-Bongo protestors, but has said its operations were not disrupted, and that it remained committed to investing in Gabon.

Reporting by Linel Kwatsi; Writing by Daniel Magnowski; Editing by Charles Dick

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