Election Statement Tuesday

Statement from Embassy of the United States of America in Gabon

The United States Embassy in Libreville congratulates the people of Gabon on the peaceful conduct of the August 27 presidential elections.  The strong voter turnout and the candidacies of many individuals illustrate a commitment to the democratic process.  We thank and congratulate the government for accrediting international and domestic monitors to observe the elections.  We furthermore commend the Gabonese security forces who were professional in the conduct of their official duties and who contributed to the elections taking place peacefully.

Embassy teams, which were present in five cities in Gabon on election day, were impressed by the determination of citizens to vote and by their patience in dealing with long lines and significant delays.  In our judgment, however, voters were not well served by the many systemic flaws and irregularities that we witnessed.  The late openings of many polling stations, delayed arrival of polling officials and party representatives, last minute changes to voting procedures, and poor understanding of existing rules, regulations and procedures contributed to confusion at many polling places.  Nevertheless, we were impressed by the orderliness of the counting and the professional manner in which it took place.  As a measure of transparency, and to increase confidence in the process, we call on the government to publish the results by polling station.  This is critical and validates the important role that Gabonese citizens were able to play by witnessing the vote count.  Exercising the right to vote and having confidence that the people’s will is reflected through the accuracy of the ballot box is a fundamental principle.

The campaign period was heated, and the post-electoral period must be a time for the Gabonese people to heal divisions and reduce tensions.  We call on all Gabonese to resolve the political differences which separate them peacefully and through dialogue.  We urge all parties to refrain from inflammatory statements or actions.  A peaceful climate after the election is as important as the peaceful conduct of voting.  It is what the Gabonese people deserve.

Going forward, we urge the Government of Gabon to conduct a thorough and expeditious review of election procedures and to quickly implement needed reforms to improve processes and instill confidence in Gabonese citizens in their government.  Important steps to improve the voter registration process, such as the introduction of biometrics, are only fully effective if the entire process is smooth and transparent.  We stand ready to assist Gabonese authorities, citizens and civil society groups in all aspects of election organization, political party development and civic participation.

Finally, though these events were isolated, the United States Embassy in Libreville strongly condemns the violence directed at individuals based on perceptions of their ethnic origin.  This behavior is unacceptable and entirely inconsistent with the values of harmony and inclusion that the Gabonese hold dear.