President Ali Bongo was sworn in to his second seven-year term in Gabon Tuesday, following a bitterly disputed election contest with opposition candidate Jean Ping.
The ceremony at the presidential palace in Libreville came after a late-night decision Friday by the country’s Constitutional Court to uphold results that returned Bongo to office. The original election results included irregularities challenged by Ping, with a nearly 100 percent voter turnout in Bongo’s home province of Haut-Ogooué that was inconsistent with other districts across Gabon.
That left Bongo with a slim margin of victory, leading to violent protests in the immediate wake of the August 27 election and questions about the validity of the vote within the international community.
Bongo has called for national unity, and said he will defend the constitution and the rule of law in a ceremony that was sparsely attended by other African leaders. Meanwhile, Ping continued to reject the ruling and called it a miscarriage of justice.
Bongo, speaking to Al-Jazeera, said he intends to focus on diversifying the economy and creating jobs, with more education and training programs for Gabonese.