French President Nicolas Sarkozy met with Ali Bongo Ondimba Wednesday in Gabon. Sarkozy expressed France's support for Bongo, whose election to the presidency was disputed six months ago.
AFP - French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday held talks with political leaders Wednesday after arriving for a one-day visit to Gabon aimed at giving a boost to bilateral ties.
Sarkozy's visit to France's former colony in west Africa comes six months after the disputed election of the late leader Omar Bongo's son Ali in presidential polls.
Bongo and a crowd of several hundred people gave the French president a colourful welcome at the airport of Franceville, one of Gabon's four largest cities.
The two leaders were to lay a wreath at the tomb of the late president who ruled this small oil-rich country for more than 40 years. Omar Bongo died in June.
Opposition figures had said the August vote was rigged, and a total of 11 appeals were filed with the constitutional court which validated the election two months later.
Sarkozy said in an interview with the country's pro-government newspaper L'Union his third visit to Gabon since coming to office in 2007 and his first since Bongo's election was to show that relations between the two country would continue uninterrupted.
"The main interest of my trip is to reaffirm loyalty. I want to show that France is faithful," he said.
"I also wanted to show that I want the relationship to develop to meet the expectations of the new Gabonese authorities in the best possible way."
Sarkozy and Bongo were to sign a new defence agreement later Wednesday as well as an accord on aid covering the next years.
On Thursday Sarkozy is to travel to Rwanda on one of the most delicate trips of his presidency to open a new chapter in ties with a country where France stands accused of aiding genocide.
Sixteen years after some 800,000 Rwandans were slaughtered by gangs incited by the former French-backed regime, Sarkozy hopes to restore normal relations with Kigali without apologising or admitting France's guilt.
Date created : 2010-02-24