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Gabon high court upholds incumbent leader Bongo's victory

After hours of silence, Gabon opposition leader Jean Ping has rejected the court ruling upholding the reelection of Ali Bongo on Saturday.

Bongo took 50.66% of the vote against 47.24% for Ping, the court ruled, putting his margin at 11 000 - higher than the less than 6 000 initially announced.

There have been fears that such a decision would trigger fresh violence.

"The Constitutional Court insulted the people and did not respect democracy", said Clay Martial, an opposition supporter who went to Ping's headquarters on Saturday.

"This decision does not bring the Gabonese people together and it does not appease them because they don't recognize it, nor does the global community, which gives it no value", Ping said on Saturday, hours after the court declared its final decision on the August 27 election.

The announcement read by the court's president, Marie-Madeleine Mborantsuo, puts an end to the legal avenues available to opposition candidate Jean Ping.

Across Libreville, the atmosphere was on a knife-edge with riot police deployed at key junctions in order to head off any more unrest.

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Following the late August election, clashes broke out out between protesters and security forces after the 31 August release of official provisional results, which declared President Bongo the victor, reportedly by a margin of less than 6,000 votes.

Bongo's family has exercised a long grip on power in the oil-rich country of 1.8 million people.

The European Union complained of being given limited access to the Constitutional Court's review of the election results that validated the reelection of Ali Bongo.

"Everyone is panicking, everyone is afraid", said Jean Rodrigue Boukoumou, a teacher who like many others was waiting to withdraw his money to stock up on food.

"Preserving peace and stability in the country is the challenge of the moment", he said.

Ping based his court appeal on the voter tally in Bongo's home province, Haut-Ogooue.

Ping has made clear he believes Bongo has the constitutional court in his pocket, referring to it as "the Tower of Pisa that always leans the same way". According to the opposition, more than 50 people were killed in the aftermath of election violence, while the government has claimed the death toll was three, according to AFP.

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