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Ali Bongo's Victory in Gabon Presidential Elections Upheld, Court Says

Opposition leader Jean Ping on Saturday lashed a decision by Gabon's top court to validate President Ali Bongo's re-election, as police and troops patrolled the deserted streets of Libreville to prevent a new flareup of violence.

"The ruling was delivered around 1am so most people are asleep and don't know Ali Bongo has been confirmed as their next president", he said.

Gabon produces around 200,000 barrels a day, its main producers being Total and Shell. As many as 1,100 people were arrested during the unrest, and at least six people were reported killed.

The small West African nation of 1.8 million people has been deeply split by violent protests that erupted after Bongo was declared the victor. The communications minister warned Ping on Wednesday that he risked arrest if violence broke out after the decision.

The court's nine judges held a hearing on Ping's election complaint on Thursday and are expected to announce a recount of ballots cast in the August the 27th vote.

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In his legal challenge, Ping asked for a recount in the Bongo family's Haut-Ogooue stronghold.

Bongo, who came to power in 2009, will now remain at the helm for a second 7-year term, succeeding his father Omar Bongo who had come to power in 1967 and passed away in 2009. "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.

"These voices, embodying political violence never before in our country, promise a lasting instability if the result of the Court they were not favorable", acknowledged Alain-Claude bile-By-Nze.

The European Union, which sent a monitoring mission to Gabon during the election, said in a statement on Saturday that its observers had been granted "very limited access" to the court review process, and that the Gabonese people had a legitimate right to question the integrity of the electoral process.

Ping has made clear he believes Bongo has the court in his pocket, referring to it as "the Tower of Pisa that always leans the same way". Bongo won more than 95 per cent of votes there on a declared turnout of more than 99 per cent.

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