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Gabon: how the "single ballot" skewed the elections

In Gabon, this Saturday, August 26, the presidential election takes place. But legislative and local elections. However, everything has been done so that the power in place does not come out beaten. Explanations.

We talk a lot about the presidential election, which takes place this Saturday, August 26 in Gabon. But it is an even more important day for the country: voters will also choose their deputies, and their departmental and municipal councillors. A calendar that matters. Because the electoral law was revised several times on the occasion of these general elections. And now seems tailor-made for the clan of Ali Bongo who, if he lost the presidential election, would certainly retain his majority in parliament.

A “single ballot” that favors the CEO

Indeed, several controversies have erupted, starting with the appointment, at the head of the Gabonese Elections Center (CGE), the body responsible for organizing the elections, of the former minister, Michel Stéphane Bonda, still close to the power. The modification of the electoral law to ensure that the opposition has fewer "tellers" in the polling stations also made a lot of talk. It will be difficult, especially in case of internet shutdowns, to ensure the veracity of the results.

But what particularly crystallized the critics was the new “single bulletin”. The latter was introduced for Saturday and is already problematic. Because if three ballots are held, each vote will be interdependent on the others. Indeed, on the famous "single ballot" will appear the names of the candidate for the presidential election and a deputy. In essence, voters will have to vote for a deputy and for a president of the same political party. This poses a big concern for candidates – for legislative or presidential elections – independent.

Enough to make the opposition lose votes

The example of the opponent Anges Kevin Nzigou is obvious: while he wants to be a deputy, being considered independent, if he votes for him he will not be able to vote for the presidential election. The presidential consensus candidate, nominated by the opposition platform Alternance 2023, is also considered independent, Albert Ondo Ossa not belonging to a political party. Those who vote for him will therefore not have the possibility of nominating a deputy, A23 having not presented any lists for the legislative elections. In other words, even if he loses the presidential election, Ali Bongo should still have the majority in the National Assembly – the PDG, his party, currently has 96 seats out of a possible 143.

After having closed the polling stations for Gabonese living abroad in several countries, the government has therefore prepared well for the post-August 26 period. Under these conditions, difficult to imagine a rout of the CEO. It is also the democratic system that is endangered. “The voter's vote must be free. But there, the voter is forced to choose once for two candidates. He must therefore vote for a ticket, ”says Mike Jocktane, campaign manager for Albert Ondo Ossa, with TV5 Monde. On the side of the militants of Alternance 2023, the objective is to focus on the election of Albert Ondo Ossa. But a few thousand votes will inevitably be lost along the way because of this “single ballot” system. And when we know that in 2016, Jean Ping was announced the loser by 5 votes, this detail is not one.

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