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Gabon unveils ‘inclusive’ government with very few opposition figures

Gabon’s prime minister has unveiled a new cabinet that includes few opposition figures, despite promises by re-elected President Ali Bongo to be more inclusive after disputed elections in August.

As part of the shake-up, the defence ministry will also be brought under the control of the office of the president.

The 40-strong team promises to be “largely open to the nation’s active movements” and is made up of around 30 percent women, Prime Minister Emmanuel Ngondet said at a press conference at the presidential palace after days of negotiations.

Very few opposition figures made it into the final team, which is meant to help “reconcile” Gabon after Bongo’s wafer-thin victory in the August 27 vote sparked deadly unrest and opposition accusations of voter fraud in the oil-rich country.

Defeated presidential candidate Jean Ping filed a legal challenge after Bongo was declared the winner by a mere 6,000 votes, but the court dismissed opposition claims of vote fraud.

A career diplomat and a former top official at the African Union, Ping has lashed the court’s ruling as a miscarriage of justice and declared himself “president elect”.

One key opposition figure who joined the government was another failed presidential candidate, Bruno Ben Moubamba, who was appointed deputy prime minister and minister of urban development, social housing and housing.

Another opposition figure was given the forestries and environment ministry, but the president’s entourage kept control of key portfolios including national defence — which Bongo held himself for a decade, before he succeeded his father as president in 2009.

“This is what they call ‘inclusive’?” said Ping’s head of communications, Jean-Gaspard Ntoutoume Emane.

Ali Bongo was sworn back in as Gabon’s president last week, with the 57-year-old using the ceremony to appeal for unity.

Violence initially erupted on August 31 after Bongo was first declared the winner of the elections. Opposition demonstrators set parliament ablaze and clashed with police, who made hundreds of arrests.

Opposition figures say more than 50 people were killed. The government has given a toll of three dead.

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said Thursday she was opening an initial probe into the unrest. 

(AFP)

Date created : 2016-10-03