Gabon president names new PM  after razor-thin election victory

Gabon president names new PM after razor-thin election victory

President Ali Bongo of Gabon has promoted foreign minister Emmanuel Issoze Ngondet to the post of Prime Minister on Wednesday, a day after he was sworn in following a razor-thin election victory whose integrity was questioned by international observers.

A statement read on state television said Bongo asked Ngondet to form an open government, in an apparent signal that members of the opposition could be invited to join.

Bongo’s victory by less than 6,000 votes has drawn unwelcome scrutiny of the president, whose family has ruled the oil-producing state in Central Africa for 49 years. Just a handful of African leaders attended his inauguration.

France called for a recount of the Aug. 27 vote and the European Union said it found anomalies in Bongo’s stronghold province of Haut-Ogooue, where he won 95 percent of the vote on a 99.9 percent turnout. Opposition leader Jean Ping said the election was rigged.

Violence was feared when the Constitutional Court on Friday declined opposition leader Jean Ping’s petition for a recount and ratified the result, but did not materialize. The inauguration ceremony was however kept relatively low-key.

Ping has rejected Friday’s court ruling as biased, and the European Union said doubts about the integrity of the process were legitimate. The United States acknowledged the ruling, calling for details of its proceedings to be made public.

The conduct of the poll may hurt his international reputation as a reformer, analysts said.

Riot gear was laid out alongside military vehicles on main streets and fighter jets flew low overhead, but many residents did not even know the ceremony was taking place.

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