The chief of President Ali Ben Bongo Ondimba’s cabinet has dismissed as “sensationalism and (an) attention-seeking ploy” an opposition leader's declaring himself president after finishing second in Gabon’s 2009 election.
Liban Suleiman told VOA Andre Mba Obame is trying to create division among ethnic Gabonese that will, in his words, mimic the crisis in both Ivory Coast and Tunisia.
“The real position is (that) the president is looking at it like a non-event. But, the population of Gabon is very mad and upset about this (because), as you know, it is a country that is known for its stability and peace,” said Suleiman.
Gabon President Ali Ben Bongo Ondimba greets supporters (file photo)
“If somebody looks at the geopolitics of it, the fact that he (Obame) started speaking in his ethnic language in meetings and rallies only allowed him to consolidate (his base) within his ethnic group, which is about 30 percent of the population.”
Suleiman also said Mba Obame tried to scare the rest of the population who are not members of his ethnic group.
Mba Obame said Tuesday at his swearing in ceremony in the capital, Libreville, the vote of the people should take precedence over a court verdict.
More than a year ago, Gabon's constitutional court upheld official results that gave the victory to Ali Ben Bongo Ondimba with about 42 percent of the vote.
Mba Obame has also named a government of 19 ministers. But, Suleiman said the opposition leader will soon come under investigation for violating the country’s constitution.
“(Mba Obame) lacks respect for the constitution of the country and the rule of law. Even the president himself is subject to the law; so, every citizen of the country has to be subject to the law. That is why the president does not need to react to this because…when you have strong institutions in the country, you know the institutions will do their work,” said Suleiman.
“He (Mba Obame) knows that he is going to lose the legislative elections, so he is creating the precedence so that he becomes a martyr so that he does not go to the legislative elections with his party, because the way the president is moving things forward, the opposition leader is scared that the president will win big.”
Suleiman accused opposition leader Mba Obame of using his television station to cause in his words, confusion, ethnic tension and divisions among Gabonese.
“The only thing he is good at is using the ethnic vibe (connection) and the fact that he owns a television station.”