Gabon began voting Saturday in the second round of legislative elections with the party of President Ali Bongo, whose family has ruled the country for nearly 50 years, coasting towards victory.
Bongo’s Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG) has already won 74 of the 83 seats up for grabs in the first round of the long-delayed parliamentary election, which is being boycotted by veteran politician Jean Ping.
Ping, a former stalwart of Bongo’s father Omar’s regime, proclaimed himself president after a controversial 2016 election which saw Bongo re-elected by just a few thousand votes.
Violence broke out and dozens of people were killed in 2016 according to the opposition, but the government says only four died. Ping’s headquarters were also bombed.
On Saturday, polling stations opened at 8:00 am (0700 GMT) for the remaining 59 seats of the 143-member legislature. Polling has been deferred in the northern constituency of Ellelem and the election commission has not given a date yet.
The fractured opposition only took four seats in the first round. Two seats were won by independent candidates and three by small parties or groups affiliated to the ruling party.
The October 6 first round also included municipal polls.
African Union observers had described the running of the election as “satisfactory” and without irregularities, but several civil society organisations complained that there had been attempts to buy votes.