Gabon: Released electoral roll too excessive?

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The official Gabonese electoral roll containing as many as 813 164 names was Tuesday handed over to the the independent national electoral commission (CENAP) by the Interior Minister of Gabon, Jean François Ndongou.

A new electoral roll containing 813 164 voters’ names was released Tuesday after a verification operation, which consisted of revising and getting rid of deceased voters on the roll. The exercise also took into account claims made by some voters after the publication of an earlier electoral roll, on 10 July.

On the eve of local elections in 2008, the central African country’s responsible authorities estimated that a total of 723 000 persons out of a total population of 1, 5 million (1.3m est. 2006, ed) had been registered to vote. The opposition vigorously contested this figure. They denounced the manipulation of the electoral register, suspecting the Gabonese Democratic Party (ruling party) to have set the electoral fraud machine rolling.

Revision of the fiercely contested 2008 roll, after duplicates and other anomalies had been dealt with, lowered the number of Gabonese voters to 702 000 people, i.e., about 20 000 people less. The resulting data has been used in recent elections.

According to official government sources, a strong mobilization of Gabonese citizens, observed during the last revision of the electoral roll in July confirmed the 813 164 voters expected to vote for their new president on August 30, 2009.

Last week, August 12, a group of 11 Gabonese presidential hopefuls denounced irregularities in the electoral process, while expressing doubts over the accuracy of the electoral roll which was revealed to contain about 120 000 duplicates.

Observers have also expressed similar doubts with respect to the reliability of an overly excessive number of voters (813,164) who appear on the electoral roll vis-à-vis the overall established population of 1.3 million (est. 2006).

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