Monday, August 15, 2016

Gabon: International community call for free and fair elections

The UN, EU, United States and four major European states appealed Friday for Gabon to ensure a free and fair presidential in a vote later this month, in which the incumbent is vying for reelection.

On the eve of the campaign for the August 27 election getting underway, they urged authorities to ensure respect for freedom of expression and association, as well as fair access to the media.

"It's essential that political figures favour dialogue and negotiation and refrain from all incitement to violence, to hatred or the stigmatisation of certain communities," said the embassies of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United States in a joint statement.

"It is also essential that national and international norms in fundamental freedoms and human rights be respected, notably in the maintenance of law and order," the statement added.

The statement was also signed by the special representative of the UN Secretary General for Central Africa and the delegations of the European Union and the International Organisation of La Francophonie.

Incumbent Ali Bongo was elected for a first term in a disputed 2009 vote following the death of his father Omar Bongo Ondimba, who had steered Gabon from 1967 and was described by critics as a corrupt despot.

This rule saw the country tap its newfound oil wealth that led to a per capita income four times that of most sub-Saharan African nations.

However most of it has not trickled down to ordinary people and critics accuse the Bongo family of usurping the country's riches and stifling democracy.


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