Experts: Electoral fraud in Africa getting trickier

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DAKAR: As Gabon is rocked by violence following the contested re-election of President Ali Bongo, experts says electoral fraud in Africa is becoming harder, thanks to civil society vigilance and spread of mobile technology. Opposition leader Jean Ping on Friday declared himself the rightful president of Gabon and called for a recount, following Bongo’s claim of victory with a razor-thin margin of just under 6,000 votes in the August 27 election. But recent elections in Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Benin and Burkina Faso have all been held largely without dispute, overseen by engaged citizens who assured careful monitoring of the process, said Mathias Hounkpe, Political Governance Program Manager for the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), which promotes greater government transparency. “It is more and more difficult to commit fraud,” he said. Preventing fraud with ballot papers was down to a clear legal framework for organizing elections, electoral bodies “in a position to respect the rules”, independent figures such as international election observers and a free press and active social media users who would guarantee a fair vote, according to Hounkpe.

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