Gabon: Presidential candidates harassed while Ali Bongo stands guests up in Paris

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Travel documents, including diplomatic passports, belonging to Jean Eyeghe Ndong and André Mba Obame, former Prime Minister and former Interior Minister of Gabon, respectively, were seized Monday by Gabonese authorities in Libreville. They two were stopped from leaving the country while on their way to France, where they were scheduled to speak with the press and the Gabonese diaspora on the pending presidential election in Gabon.

Jean Eyeghe Ndong and André Mba Obame, formerly of the Democratic Party of Gabon (PDG, ruling party), now independent candidates for the pending presidential election — scheduled to take place August 30 2009–, can not leave Gabon, until their yet-to-be-made applications for other travel documents are approved by the responsible state organ.

According to the new Interior Minister, Jean François Ndoungou, the two individuals, former Prime Minister and Interior Minister of Gabon, still held passports stating their former government functions. He advised them to obtain new travel documents, as MPs, before leaving the country. “I am made to understand that he is an MP and must ask the National Assembly for a certificate establishing his status to enable him acquire a diplomatic passport as a Member of Parliament…” said Jean François Ndoungou.

Jean Eyeghe Ndong, who was prevented from leaving the country Monday while on his way to France, termed the Border Police’s act as “inelegant” and criticised them for treating him as a bare footed traveller. “I’m sure I would not have been prevented from travelling if I had not resigned from my position as Prime Minister to become an independent candidate” for the presidential election. Andre Mba Obame, who last week complained that he was being harassed by the authorities, has also criticised the decision.

Meanwhile, Ali Bongo Ondimba, current defense minister of Gabon and also official presidential candidate of the PDG, who was to meet with the press in Paris on Tuesday, left over one hundred people, including journalists and Gabonese, wanting. The organizers of the press conference told the stranded guests that the Minister had to accompany the Gabonese President on an official visit.

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