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Gabon ruling party ahead in polls

LIBREVILLE, Gabon (Reuters) -- Gabon's ruling party looked set to strengthen its majority in parliament after winning a huge advance on the opposition in the first round of the central African country's legislative elections.

Results of the December 9 poll released by the electoral commission late on Thursday showed President Omar Bongo's Democratic Party (PDG) took 52 seats in the 120-member assembly.

Only three seats went to opposition parties, while three were won by independent candidates.

The PDG was also ahead in about half of the seats where no candidate won a majority, for which a second round will be held on December 23.

Bongo's party already dominated the outgoing parliament with 89 seats.

A clear victory would consolidate his control over the small oil-producing country he has ruled since 1967.

Some opposition parties boycotted the election, which was marred by protests.

Voting was halted at least in one southeastern constituency as angry demonstrators smashed ballot boxes. Turnout was low across the country.

The commission said the first round of the poll would have to be re-run in 10 seats because of organisational problems.


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