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Failed presidential candidate names parallel government in Gabon

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-01-26

In a parallel of the political deadlock in Ivory Coast, Gabon's former interior minister Andre Mba Obame (pictured) proclaimed himself president on Tuesday at the headquarters of his National Union party in the capital Libreville.

AFP - A failed presidential candidate in Gabon has proclaimed himself head of the oil-rich African nation and named a parallel cabinet, citing Ivory Coast's example, but was condemned by the government.

Former interior minister Andre Mba Obame, who has claimed that victory was stolen from him in the 2009 election by Ali Bongo Ondimba, on Tuesday named his "government" at the headquarters of his National Union party in the capital Libreville.

He said he was taking a lead from Ivory Coast, where the internationally recognised winner of a November election is holed up in a hotel with his government while the longserving ruler refuses to step down.

"The vote of the Gabonese is stronger than a decision of the Constitutional Court," Mba Obame said, after his "swearing-in" ceremony, aired by the TV+ station.

"Gabon must be led by the man the people have really chosen," he said. "My dear countrymen... let us assume our responsibilities."

Bongo has ruled Gabon since winning presidential elections held on August 30, 2009 after the death of his father Omar Bongo Ondimba, who held power for more than four decades.

According to final results approved by the constitutional court, Bongo won 41.79 percent of the vote. Veteran opposition leader Pierre Mamboundou came second with 25.66 percent of the ballot and Mba Obame's share was 25.33 percent.

Gabon's Interior Minister Jean-Francois Ndongou accused Mba Obame, who named a prime minister and 18-member cabinet, of "gravely violating" the constitution and committing "high treason".

The country's ruling party branded it a "seditious act," and called for punitive measures against the lawmaker.

"History is in the making. Let's move," Mba Obame said, also referring to Tunisia, where mass protests against joblessness, poverty and corruption toppled a president who had ruled for 23 years.

Saying he had "no weapons, no army," but only "the Gabonese people and my determination," Mba Obame said "insurrection" was okay when the "government breaches the right of the people".

Experts said Mba Obame however poses little real threat to Bongo, whose father had handed out privileges and contracts, enabling him to rally some of his oldest and fiercest opponents to his cause and helping him become the world's longest serving leader, except for monarchs.

Date created : 2011-01-26

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