Gabon’s Bongo sworn back in, calls for unity after violence


Ali Bongo who was sworn back in as Gabon’s President Tuesday has called for unity after a disputed election win that sparked deadly unrest in the country.

Bongo used the ceremony to appeal for unity after the deadly violence following the announcement of his victory last month revealed deep divisions in the oil-rich country.

He pledged to ensure “equal opportunities” for all in the new government “which I will name in a few days.”

The 57-year-old has invited members of opposition parties to come and join his cabinet. According to Communications minister Alain-Claude Bilie By Nze there will be “an open government, with members of the opposition, civil society and independent personalities.”

Canons were fired during the ceremony in the seafront presidential palace in Libreville, as fears of fresh violence resurfaced.

“I pledge to devote all my efforts for the good of the Gabonese people and to ensure their well-being… and respect and defend the constitution and the rule of law,” he said during the event.

“Our country is going through a worrying period in its history,” he added.

Presidents of Mali, Niger, Togo and Sao Tome as well as the prime ministers from Chad, Senegal, the Central African Republic and Morocco attended the ceremony with most regional heavyweights staying away.

Bongo’s second mandate has received a cool reception from the African Union and the United Nations, while the European Union voiced regret that the count had not been transparent.

But Bongo on Tuesday said the “democratic process has been recognised by everybody, including foreign observers”.

“I want to reassure our international partners, especially our traditional ones, that we will spare no effort to maintain good relations and friendship between our people,” he said.

Defeated opposition contender Jean Ping, 73, lashed the court’s ruling as a miscarriage of justice and declared himself “president elect”.

He has so far not responded to Bongo’s overtures for a dialogue.

Ping whom authorities have threatened to arrest for inciting violence, has so far refrained from calling people on to the streets, raising the possibility of a peaceful resolution to the election dispute  which the Constitutional Court which ruled in Bongo’s favour.