Gabon opposition calls for nat'l talks

2012-09-09 22:15

Mouila - Twenty Gabonese opposition parties launched a unified call on Sunday for a national conference on "democratic political change".

The call came in a document jointly signed by the parties, including the National Union and the Union of the Gabonese People. It was the first time the opposition had adopted a common position on the issue.

"To reach the objective of a democratic political change, the Gabonese opposition in its entirety demands current powers organise a national conference," the document stated.

The demand was first made by National Union leader Andre Mba Obame after he returned to the western African nation following 14 months abroad for health reasons.

Mba Obame, a former member of the ruling party who defected to the opposition after declaring himself the elected head of state, has refused to recognise the electoral victory of Ali Bongo Ondimba in 2009.

The opposition demand has repeatedly been rejected by the president who argues that there is no crisis that would justify holding a national conference.

Bongo said in August too much time had been wasted since sweeping political reforms in 1990 on political squabbling. "Gabon's political class must stop to speak to itself and for itself," he said.

But in its document the opposition denounced "worsening moral, political, economic, institutional, social and cultural crises" in the country, as well as "the extreme poverty of a Gabonese people in despair, ... random intimidation, threats and repression, ... unemployment and the desperation of the Gabonese youth".