Libreville – Gabon’s President Ali Bongo said Friday that he had not used or encouraged the violence which erupted in his country after he won re-election last month by a wafer-thin margin.
“I have not employed or triggered the violence,” Bongo said in an interview with AFP, blaming the murder and pillaging on “a climate” created by main opposition leader Jean Ping after “a violent campaign of lies and denigration”.
Ping has rejected the official August 31 announcement that Bongo won the election by fewer than 6,000 votes.
That outcome prompted several days of riots amid opposition claims the election had been stolen.
Bongo put the blame squarely in the Ping camp, and added that the lack of any talks with his rival “is not my fault.
“I have never refused to talk,” he said.
“I wanted democratic elections, I wanted transparent elections, I wanted a ballot that was just, I am not reliant on fraud.”
Bongo, whose family has ruled the central African nation since 1967, has admitted that the results of the August 27 election pose a challenge to him as “many compatriots did not vote for me, so I must consider this fact and I will govern accordingly”.
Ping has taken his election challenge to court and warned Friday that the country faces “long-lasting instability” if the top court rejects his appeal for a vote recount after his narrow defeat.
In particular, Ping is asking for a recount in Haut-Ogooue province, a Bongo family stronghold where the incumbent won more than 95 percent of the vote on an official turnout of more than 99 percent.
Talking to AFP, Bongo, however, said he remained confident, adding that the court’s ruling “will shed light on the whole electoral operation and on the massive fraud which Mr Ping organised” in several provinces.
He vowed to re-establish peace and order in his country.