Libreville (Gabon), June 8, 2011
Letter from Civil Society of Gabon to BARACK OBAMA
To the President of the United States of America, BARACK OBAMA
Prelude to his meeting with Ali Bongo, President of Gabon
Excellency Mr. President,
It is in the name of the cardinal democratic values that underpin the United States of America that the Gabonese civil society comes to you, when you are preparing to receive Mr. Ali Bongo, President of the Republic of Gabon, who presides over the destiny of the Security Council of the United Nations, and expose to you the catastrophic situation of governance and democracy in Gabon.
Independent since 1960, Gabon has two main pathologies that affect all segments of society: bad governance and corruption.
The main characteristic of this disease lies in the refusal of any democratic change through the confiscation of power by fraudulent means, rigged elections, the results of elections are known in advance, the list of electors domiciled at the Ministry of Interior undergoes systematic manipulation and trafficking of all kinds in order to maintain a corrupt system and hated by the population. The ballot box results are reversed for the benefit of the Gabonese Democratic (sic) Party (Parti Democratique Gabonais, PDG), the party-state, in power for 44 years, one of the last remnants of the monolithic political system in Africa, also responsible of the widespread bankruptcy and ruin the country.
Yes, Mr. President, Gabon is in ruined, its democracy is devastated.
Institutions in general have no credibility because they are ideologically and politically loyal to the Gabonese Democratic Party. Their sole aim is regime survival. The last constitutional amendment decided unilaterally by the PDG, the sole aim to empower and create an unlimited lifetime presidency for Mr. Ali Bongo, is the perfect illustration of democratic stagnation in Gabon. Similarly, the Constitutional Court is one of the bolts of a real walk from Gabon to the rule of law and democracy. That institution led by the beautiful mother of Ali Bongo and includes former chiefs of the ruling party firmly blocked democracy. She stubbornly refuses the establishment of legal mechanisms to organize credible elections, transparent and democratic in the country, with the direct involvement of civil society organizations in all phases of Gabon election (pre-election, during election and post-election). The Constitution Court has consistently opposed the introduction of BIOMERTRY in the electoral system when all political actors and civil society have unanimously chosen angelically the biometry system.
We have come to a bitter realization that the actions, methods and practices of the actual gabonese government are contrary to the international standards of democracy
Journalists are imprisoned and threatened with death simply because they expose corruption, and wrong and anti-democratic actions of people belonging to the government or the presidential family. The journalist Désiré ENAME, Managing Editor of the weekly ECHOS DU NORD, was abducted and kidnapped by the police, exploited by a relative of President, Frederik BONGO. Thanks to the rapid mobilization of civil society, ENAME Desiré was released.
Every day, freedom of association are threatened. Trade unionists defending their rights have been imprisoned. Some unionists, members of the CONASYCED, have seen their salaries for several months suspended for demanding respect for commitments made by the government.
Newspapers very critical of those in power are suspended or destroyed by special agents working for people in power.
The two public television channels routinely conduct a shameless manipulation of public opinion.
Democratic expressions such as peaceful marches or gatherings are banned or brutally suppressed by security forces which behave with civilians as forces of occupation and repression.
The opposition parties are marginalized, their activities are subjected to considerable harassment. Several members and supporters of a dissolved opposition party were removed from the public service staff or prosecuted.
As you can be see, Gabon is not a democratic country, its political power is dictatorial because based on fraud and repression of democratic forces as mechanisms for sustaining political power at odds with the democratic values on which United States are based. This is indeed the same family who confiscates the power and dividends and divert public funds for the sole benefit of their small caste of barony.
The corruption of the ruling elite enriched indefinitely and growing extreme poverty in the population
Since Mr. Ali Bongo Ondimba took over the business of the country, many decisions to improve the management of the state have been announced, but the implementation of these initiatives is still pending. Informed observers refer to this as "the effects of ads or pure publicity" ...
Meanwhile, corruption linked in particular to public market procurement and management of revenues from extractive industries affects all segments of the Gabonese administration. The most significant example in 2011 is the business that brings the organization of the African Cup of Nations (CAN) 2012: SOCOBA and ENTRACO, two corporations owned by the president's family, have the largest number of contracts. It is the same with the Gabonese oil revenues that are in the hands of the president's family or relatives living within his galaxy.
In the same vein of spoliation of Gabon's financial resources, rotating holidays, a real money pit that has swallowed more than 500 billion CFA francs, allowed different political barons and deans to serve themselves without shame in the country coffers, with impunity. Most recently, the President has even offered at Gabon's taxpayers expense, a sumptuous estate valued at 100 million Euros, in Paris, while the Gabonese children suffer from poor education and social inequality in constant progression.
In addition, audits measures undertaken by the Court of Accounts (Cour des Comptes) show the extent of the abuses and economic crimes committed in that program called "fêtes tournantes du Gabon" (sort of revolving festivities regarding Gabon's Independence Day). At the institutional level, the National Commission of Fight Against Illicit Enrichment lacks effectiveness, independence and means of action to match its ambitions, because of the lack of political will. While the barons of the regime empty country's coffers, poverty is growing by leaps and bounds. The country lacks everything.
Initiative EITI Extractive Industries Transparency suffers a setback and the government no longer seems to give importance to this noble initiative which last conciliation report was published in 2006.
Mr. President, as you can see, Gabon is in ruin, Gabon is victim and strongly affected by the two conditions, ie a bad democratic governance based on a fraudulent electoral system and a corrupt regime. Gabon was ranked among countries with Africa's highest corruption index.
Faced with this situation, Civil society denounces in the strongest terms this desire to organize the next legislative in current fraudulent and anti-democratic conditions. We recommend for one hand, the return of the election in two rounds for all elections, and secondly, the limitation of the length of mandates or terms for the president, legislative and constituent bodies of the state.
The above being said, considering your historic speech in Accra for Africa where you said:
"Governments that respect the will of their people, who govern by consent and not coercion, are more prosperous, more stable and more successful than those who do not. "
"It's not just holding elections, we must see what happens between elections. Punishment takes many forms and too many countries, even those that hold elections, are plagued with problems that condemn their people to poverty. "
"Nobody wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the law of the strongest and corruption.This is not democracy, that is tyranny, even if occasionally you sprinkle an election here and there, and it is time that this style of government disappears.
" In addition you added that "a strong democratic country is that the stability of its democratic institutions and not politicians."
Your speech of ACCRA reasoned in our ears and met with a favorable response from Gabonese who aspire to live in a country freed from tyranny and corruption. A country where citizens can express their opinion freely, a country where we will see the advent of reliable and democratic institutions. Gabonese today are trapped in a predatory and corrupt system that steals at the climax all the resources of the country, in billions of dollars. Mr. President, such a system should no longer thrive. You must, on behalf of democracy and freedom, say this to Mr Ali Bongo Ondimba, while expressing your opposition to the militarization of Gabon, to installation of the reign of terror where the armed forces of the second and third categories are deployed each day in the streets, as a country under siege!
In this regard, please kindly send a clear message to Mr. Ali Bongo Ondimba on democracy and freedom and he must commit to:
- Organizing democratic elections impartially, with the involvement of Civil society and under the supervision of the international community to ensure a peaceful transition to democracy desired by the whole population of Gabon;
- To adopt the institutional reforms proposed by Civil society to strengthen democracy base on international standards of (good) governance, specific to all democratic systems.
Civil Society for Gabon:
- Marc Ona Essangui, President Brainforest, GOLDMAN ENVIRONMENTAL Price 2009: (241) 07294140: firstname.lastname@example.org
- George MPAG, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Network of Organizations of Free Civil Society for Good Governance in Gabon (ROLBG): (00 241) 07519932: email@example.com
- Alain MOUPOPA, President of African NGO Horizons of Human Rights: (00241) 07751503
- Dieudonné Minlam MINTOGO, President of the National Observatory of Democracy: (00241) 07948719: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Joel Celestin MAMBOUNDOU: President of the NGO Governance Democracy and Environmental Health (DILDOS) and Network Coordinator TAI: (00 241) 07943034
(Translation from french, by CLG)