Gabonese need to "exercise their civic duty" in presidential vote: UN chief

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The people of Gabon need to "exercise their civic duty". UN Photo/Staton Winter

The people of Gabon need to "exercise their civic duty" when they go to the polls on Saturday to elect a new president.

That's the message from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a statement issued on the eve of the vote.

The UN chief said he was looking forward to the poll being conducted in a "peaceful and credible manner."

Matthew Wells reports.

Politics in the west central-African country has been dominated by the Bongo family, who have ruled for 42 years.

News reports say that tensions have been high ahead of voting, and opposition leaders have been barred from organizing public rallies.

Ali Bongo Ondimba is seeking a second seven-year term as president, and is being challenged for the top job by former African Union Commission chief, Jean Ping, leader of the Gabonese Progress Party.

Mr Ban commended the government of Gabon and the Autonomous and Permanent National Election Commission for their preparations.

Here's UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric.

"The Secretary-General calls on all Gabonese to exercise their civic duty responsibly and looks forward to the holding of the poll in a peaceful and credible manner. The Secretary-General urges all political stakeholders, in particular the candidates, to exercise restraint, abstain from any acts of incitement or the use of inflammatory statements, and maintain a peaceful atmosphere before, during and after the election."

The UN chief also welcomed the deployment of international election observers for Saturday's vote.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1'04"

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