Gabon rivals seek united front against poll leader
LIBREVILLE: Five candidates in Gabon’s presidential election have agreed to unite behind Andre Mba Obame, a rival to poll front-runner Ali Ben Bongo, son of the late president.
But the bid to promote a unity candidate appeared to have backfired yesterday as four contenders denied having pulled out of the race to rally behind a rival.
A further seven denied media reports that they had also pulled out, underscoring divisions among a pack of more than 20 candidates trying to prevent the younger Bongo from succeeding Omar Bongo, who ruled the central African oil producer for more than 40 years before he died in June.
“Consultations resulted in a secret vote and the designation of Andre Mba Obame (as can- didate),” said a statement read by one withdrawing election hopeful, Anna Claudine Assayi Ayo, after overnight talks with other candidates yesterday.
Obame was Gabon’s interior minister until June and an executive member of Bongo’s ruling Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG) for 23 years before choosing to run separately.
A Bongo victory is widely seen as ensuring continuity of investor-friendly policies that have allowed decades of foreign-led oil production. Critics complain Omar Bongo’s rule was based on corruption and failed to develop the country.
Two respected rival candidates, Casimir Oye Mba and Bruno Ben Moubamba, denied they had pulled out.
“I do not recognise any such document,” Moubamba said. – Reuters