Gabon's Bongo Asks National Unity After Re-election Is Confirmed

Gabon's Bongo Asks National Unity After Re-election Is Confirmed

Meanwhile, opposition leader Jean Ping has sharply criticised the validation of President Ali Bongo's re-election by the country's Constitutional Court as a "miscarriage of justice".

President Bongo won August's election by just 6,000 votes but the opposition says the poll was rigged.

"I will not retreat", he said at a news conference in the capital, and declared he was the nation's president, "clearly elected by the Gabonese people".

The court partially changed the results of the bitterly-fought election, cancelling votes from 21 stations over irregularities.

At least seven people died during protests that erupted this month after the announcement of the election results.

Ping said that he had no faith in the court because of its ties to the president.

The decision had been read late on Friday night in an nearly empty court chamber.

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But the government has warned Ping he will be held responsible if fresh violence breaks out, and could find himself arrested if he crosses "the red line". "We want a calm country", said Arnel Sama, 40, an unemployed resident of Libreville, expressing relief that the court ruling had not immediately sparked renewed unrest, as many had feared.

Ban in the statement goes on to say that at this critical and sensitive juncture in the country's history, it is of utmost importance that all actors demonstrate maximum restraint and fully respect human rights and fundamental freedoms.

"Until the results are announced, you are requested to avoid going anywhere until further notice", the French embassy said on its website in a notice to its 10,000-strong community in the country.

Ping based his court appeal on the voter tally in Bongo's home province, Haut-Ogooue.

Ping, a lifelong political insider in Gabon who has also served as chairman of the African Union Commission, was in meetings with advisors on Saturday and declined to comment directly on the court ruling.

The protesters attacked the parliament building and clashed with police, leaving 1,000 arrested, local media reported.

A European Union election observer mission said it had also uncovered anomalies in the province's results. According to the opposition, more than 50 people were killed in the aftermath of election violence, while the government has claimed the death toll was three, according to AFP.

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