Mr. Alain Juppé
Minister of Foreign Affairs
37, Quai d'Orsay
Paris, December 9, 2011
Subject: Open Letter on the position of France vis-à-vis the government of Gabon
Gabon holds parliamentary elections Dec. 17, 2011. Our association, SURVIE (Survival), would like to alert you about the situation a few days before the election, on election preparations and, more broadly, the social and political situation.
Ali Bongo was declared president in the 2009 presidential election, even though many voices and international observers have pointed out the massive fraud of the vote and the lack of transparency of the results. Since this extremely questionable election, how Ali Bongo governs does not differ much from the dictatorial policy of his father. Institutional structures have changed little in the National Assembly and the Senate, to the Constitutional Court, the National Council of Communication and the Electoral Commission autonomous and permanent, the party in power reigns supreme.
Since 2009 and especially this past year, many personalities from civil society, opposition parties and even the ruling party (1), denounce this situation. They insist, among other things, the change of constitution that has transfered a large number of powers to the Head of State (the president), and does not allow the independence of the judiciary or the democratic control of military forces. These important parts of the society also highlight the lack of transparency surrounding the electoral process for the forthcoming parliamentary elections.
Since its inception in February 2011, the movement "Enough of That!" (Ça Suffit Comme Ça”), which brings together many participants like unions, NGOs, politicians and members of various denominations, claims and denounces democracy institutions in the sole of the clan Bongo and people in power.
This movement called for a boycott or reject legislative elections, accusing the known absence of transparency of the electoral process and lack of consideration of their claims. Democracy presupposes, strong institutions that reflect the diversity of players in the democratic expression of Gabon. The main opposition parties, the MESP of Mwange Mbanding, most executives of UPG whose leader Pierre Mamboundou just died, and the candidates of the Union Nationale - banned party, led by Mba Obame - refuse to play the game of these elections.
"Enough is enough with false elections. No transparency, No election" (says the banner)
Faced with these social and political movements, Ali Bongo and his government refused any dialogue, put pressure on individuals and opposition parties, do not hesitate to lay off employees, and use the police and military repression - as was the case in Port Gentil in September 2009, challenging the official election result, where many deaths have been counted (2).
Military forces trying to stop an opposition meeting in Bitam, northern Gabon
The French government had legitimized the election of Ali Bongo in August 2009 recognizing the alleged winner. Secretary of State for Cooperation of the time, Alain Joyandet, had taken, October 15 2009 in Libreville, the claim that "the elections certainly contained some weaknesses, but in any event, it could not question the validity of the election. " The French executive continued having excellent relations with the Gabonese government, as illustrated by various visits Ali Bongo at the Elysee Palace or the President of the Republic and the French Prime Minister in Gabon. These relations are increasingly marked by the heavy suspicions of secret funding supplied by the recent statements of Mr. Bourgi, Bonnecorse, Jocktane and by the political pressure on the court case of ill-gotten gains, or by unjustifiable refusal to let on French territory the ATTAC-Gabon activist even with if he hold a visa, just when Ali Bongo was on his European tour at the end of October. It must be said that the current French government does not hide the strategic importance of its relationship with Gabon, including the military, since the country is "the first anchor of our pre-positioned forces on the Atlantic coast of continent ", as shown unequivocally by the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France.
At the time of the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Syria show that it is possible to support dictators against their people, and where your government says committed to democracy, human rights and transparency elections as a guarantee of democracy, we ask that you be consistent in your statements and your actions, and stop flouting these principles when dealing with countries from the former French colonies in Africa.
Mr. Minister, you must make a real change in your policy vis-à-vis Gabon.
France must not stop the political changes underway in our allied countries, when people try to conquer their democracy.
We invite the French diplomacy to stop condoning the regime currently in place in Gabon, including ceasing to enhance its role at the international level or at the United Nations, and to challenge Ali Bongo and his government on the state of democracy in Gabon. We ask you to tell your particular concern about the parliamentary elections prepared without transparency and compliance to engagements made by the State itself vis-à-vis the various components of political and civil society in May 2011 .
It seems essential that French diplomats, who said that he appreciated the aspirations of the people, publicly distanced himself from Ali Bongo, until organized elections has been recognized as free and fair by the various social and political components of Gabon, which include, the movement "Enough of That! ".
Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of our consideration.
For Association SURVIE,
Thomas Borrel, vice-president.
107 Boulevard de Magenta
Tel. : (33-1) 446103 25
Fax: (33-1) 44 61 03 20
(1) This applies to member Paulette Oyane Ondo and Jean Christophe Owono, suspended by the presidential party after taking these positions.
(2) Three dead, according to the ruling party, 22 according to the newspaper "L'Union" deemed close to the government, 57 according to the opposition.
(Translate from french, by Citoyen Libre Gabon)