Friday, September 30, 2016

Gabon: Bongo invites ICC to probe post election violence

The International Criminal Court (ICC) said on Thursday it had begun a preliminary examination into the situation in Gabon at the request of the country’s government.
The ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, said in a statement that she would review available information before deciding whether to open a formal investigation.

“My Office will examine information regarding crimes allegedly committed by any groups or individuals involved in the situation.
“Where a referral is accompanied by supporting documentation that identifies potential perpetrators, my Office is not bound or constrained by the information contained therein when conducting investigations in order to determine whether specific persons should be charged.

After careful analysis of all available information, I shall make a determination that will be made public in due course,” Bensouda’s statement read.
The Bongo family has ruled the oil-producing central African country for nearly five decades. The incumbent Ali Bongo won elections in 2009 to replace his father Omar Bongo who had ruled for over three decades.

Ali Bongo was sworn in for a second term on Tuesday. His narrow and disputed victory in August elections sparked violent protests. The country’s national assembly was burnt down on the evening he was declared winner.

Subsequently, the opposition headquarters was also attacked ostensibly by state security forces. The leading opposition figure, Jean Ping, went to court to dispute the polls.
The court however affirmed the election of Bongo, a decision Ping refused to accept. He named his ‘government’ on Thursday insisting that he was the winner of the August 29 polls.

The Gabonese Republic is a State Party to the Rome Statute, and as such, the ICC has jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed on the territory or by nationals of Gabon since 1 July 2002, the date when the Statute entered into force in Gabon.


Gabon opposition leader rejects Bongo's legitimacy, calls for talks

Gabon's opposition leader Jean Ping called on Thursday for national talks to form a "new republic" and urged foreign powers to impose sanctions on allies of President Ali Bongo, sworn in this week after a disputed election in the oil-producing nation.
Ping remained intransigent during his speech in the capital Libreville, saying he refused to recognise Bongo's presidency. But his appeal for dialogue -- albeit on his own terms -- could help usher in a return to normal after post-election violence last month killed at least six people.
Ping ridiculed Bongo's earlier appeals for talks, saying that the president, who came to power in a contentious 2009 election following his father Omar Bongo's death after 42 years in power, had won fraudulently.
Instead, he said he would organise his own talks, though he provided few details.
"This inclusive national dialogue will be...the occasion to put in place the foundations of a new republic," he said.
Ping also called for sanctions against the authors of what he called "a military-electoral coup d'etat" and urged the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to come to Gabon to investigate violence after Bongo was declared the winner.
Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement on Thursday that she had begun a preliminary examination of the situation in the country at the request of the government. She will decide later whether to open a formal investigation. [nA5N197016]
Bongo's victory in last month's poll by less than 6,000 votes drew accusations of fraud from Ping. France called for a recount and the European Union said it found anomalies in Bongo's stronghold province of Haut-Ogooue, where he won 95 percent of the vote on a 99.9 percent turnout.
But fears of resurgent violence after the Constitutional Court upheld Bongo's victory last week failed to materialise and Bongo was sworn in at a subdued ceremony on Tuesday. [nL8N1C34KC]
He has promised to name an inclusive new government in the coming days and to address some of the issues that have fuelled anger in the country of 1.8 million, like youth unemployment and over-reliance on dwindling oil revenues.
However, the conduct of the poll may hurt his international reputation as a reformer, analysts said. Just a handful of African leaders attended his inauguration.

Jean Ping rejects Bongo's dialogue, announces formation of 'new Gabon'

Gabonese opposition leader Jean Ping has rejected President Ali Bongo’s national dialogue proposition and announced the formation of a “new Gabon” after a rival inclusive national dialogue.
Jean Ping made the remark during a press conference at his home in Libreville on Thursday insisting he is the president-elect of Gabon and he will not recognise the authority of Ali Bongo.

“I call on the people to prepare for an inclusive national dialogue at my initiative … This inclusive national dialogue will be an opportunity for the new government chosen after the August 27 election and the Gabonese people to put in place the foundations of a new republic,” Ping said.
He extended an invitation to political parties, trade unions, religious organizations, the diaspora and civil society in the country to be ready to play an active role in the national dialogue. 

Jean Ping also declared Thursday, October 6, 2016 as a day of national mourning for those killed after the election and called on Gabonese to remain at home on that day to “contemplate, meditate and reflect”.
He appealed to the security forces to respect their professional code of conduct and avoid any human rights violation.

Ping called on the international community to sanction those guilty in the “electoral coup” and also called on rights groups including the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the “murders, disappearances and violations of human rights perpetrated in the country since 31 August 2016”.
After he was sworn in on Tuesday, President Ali Bongo appointed foreign minister, Emmanuel Issoze Ngondet as the new prime minister tasked to form an inclusive government which will be announced on Sunday.

Ping has however made it clear that he will not associate with the Bongo government which he describes as illegitimate and advised Gabonese to reject them and their proposed national dialogue.
The prosecutor of the ICC, Fatou Bensouda announced on Thursday that the court will conduct a preliminary review of the situation in Gabon to determine if the criteria required for opening an investigation are met. 

Violence followed the announcement that Ali Bongo had won the election last month. The national assembly was burnt down and the opposition headquarters attacked.
More than a 1,000 people were arrested in the deadly riots and a number of people died.
Jean Ping appealed against the August 27 election results at the Constitutional Court to authorise a recount.

The court upheld the President’s re-election victory and he immediately called for an open dialogue with the opposition.