Voting is beneath manner 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 just isn’t 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 common elections, there are critical issues concerning the course of.
Each of Mr Bongo’s prior wins have 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 selection of a president and MP who should belong to the identical get together.
Consultants say this disadvantages impartial candidates – notably Mr Ondo Ossa, who heads the opposition Alternance 2023 alliance however lacks a celebration of his personal.
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’ll attempt to act as observers regardless of having no official accreditation.
There have been stories of delays at some voting centres, and it’s not clear if the Saturday night cut-off time can be prolonged.
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 have been recorded plotting methods to create an influence wrestle in Gabon and win help from international powers, they usually have accused the federal government of “shameful manipulation” in an announcement launched by Alternance 2023.
In addition to voting for his or her selection 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.