Speech of Paulette Oyane Ondo, lawyer
Rally of Opposition and Civil Society
Place Nkembo, Libreville (Gabon)
January 14, 2012
Dear friends, dear compatriots,
Let me first tell you from the bottom of my heart that we have the pleasure each and every one of us to see so many of you at this mythical place of Nkembo, united by the same ideals and the same desire to get as soon as possible alternation of power in our country.
I am very happy to be among people who have the honor to address you this afternoon. And, I thank the organizers for this and all members of the Presidium of our platform opposition / civil society.
Dear friends, dear brothers and sisters,
I want to tell you that I am struck by the vitality and determination with which you expressed your refusal to continue participating in rigged elections.
You have captured the lucid open political debate following the decision taken by arrogant people in power (in Gabon) to organize somehow and suddenly parliamentary elections without guarantee of transparency, sincerity or credibility.
Knowingly, and after hearing all the major players (in the political field) you wanted to say that in the current state of their organization, the elections were not an effective instrument of political change in Gabon.
You have confidently held to reject unambiguously, as we invited you to do so, an outdated practice of people in power that is to despise your choice by substituting election nominations made behind closed doors and in private circles.
Today you are the guarantors of the refusal of election parodies.
Dear friends, I know that as a result of your action on December 17, some malcontents are trying to make you believe on television, neighborhood market, in your workplace, at school and universities, that it did not help.
So I do not want to be mean to these people, but I fear that those who say this do suffer at least a severe memory loss.
I fear they are simply a distraction.
Straight Talk: How many times have we heard your complaints?
How many times have we heard your legitimate complaints for being involved for years in elections which winners are known in advance and to cry fraud after?
How many times have you had heard that it is useless to take complains to the Constitutional Court because it does not change anything?
You, the Gabonese people, consider that the Constitutional Court acts as a specialized agency of the ruling party responsible for investing the candidates selected by people in power!
Since this shame spectacle is also exhausting for you, one had to end it.
That's why on December 17 you sent a signal to the world, I mean the whole world, saying clearly what you mean now is that your choices must be respected.
By your attitude of non-cooperation and non-participation in elections last December, you have finally created a new spirit.
You have decided by this act, that you, the Gabonese people, you are the one and only Power.
You have expressed your desire to want democracy here and now!
In doing so conscientiously and responsibly, you wanted to carry the universal word demanding freedom and dignity which are ultimately the joint program of all peoples in all countries and at all latitudes .
This choice of hope is what I call the year zero of the public life of Gabon. Because of this action of yours, nothing will ever be the same.
At the same time, dear brothers and sisters, this choice of hope is also steeped in requirements, starting with the requirement of working together to which you invite us and it had always be known as one of your wishes.
In fact, yourselves have understood and felt for a long time and before your leaders, that only working together or the unity of the opposition, could make things happen and brings to you the good life, well being and decency a dignified life.
I want to say to this effect that your determination inspired us and led us to working together.
I am announcing that the opposition and civil society gathered here have decided not to do politics for a man, for a candidate or a party, but for a huge collective ambition.
We propose a new political horizon through our new platform.
Gone are the days of the dissipation of energy within the opposition and civil society!
We passed the time of personal quarrels and the Battle of egos. Because we realized that this scattering weakens the speech and consistency of the opposition and civil society, while making the bed and the play of those in power.
Now we work together for the country and we do not associate with those who violate the interests of the people of Gabon.
We have taken this decision in good conscience and responsibility because Gabon has need for change, because you deserve this change.
This change can only come from this side of the political spectrum, a responsible opposition, ambitious and gathered around an innovative project.
And this project is the alternation.
Of course, we are aware and you also find it difficult to fight this battle in the context of authoritarian tendencies and restriction of freedoms: suspension of the press and television that emit a dissenting opinion, to the legitimate demands of scholarships by students they oppose the force of bayonets.
But I want to tell you, my friends, that the vastness of our ambition forbids us to allow ourselves to be intimidated again.
Because you have decided on December 17 to be free on your own.
And we have confidence in you.
We have confidence because you are beautiful people and that you carry powerful resource.
We have confidence because you understand that you are the masters of the game and you understand that the problem is your passive submission to power. Because one is dominated because he or she agrees to be dominated.
We have confidence because we are now working collectively and tirelessly for the alternation of political power.
We have confidence because we know we can count on your refusal to continue to endorse the geopolitics that kills intelligence, skills and energies in discriminating and excluding of public life tens of thousands of you in the name of ethnic , provincial and clan considerations.
Dear friends, I beg you to believe me, we will win because you no longer want a brutal society where the human being is not a central concern of those who govern you;
We will win because you do not want absurd poverty that is imposed upon you and leaves you by the wayside, leaving our children to die at the doors of hospitals due to lack of support, which instead of building decent housing for dignified people (because housing is the dignity of life) destroyed what little they have while laughing irresponsibly about the dismay of people.
We will win because you're tired of constant political propaganda that leads to nothingness, of whims and manly shin shots to impress who knows who, in seeking to win rather than convinced.
We are confident in our next victory because those who are the seeds of our people no longer want to be laughed at in their home country, they no longer support that foreigners have more rights than Gabonese themselves in senior civil service, in government, market, on the street, in the private sector and even in the functioning of the governing powers of the state.
We are confident because we know that Gabon can no longer tolerate the guilty inertia of government when face with the confusion and terror arousing in us because of the murders of young Gabonese for purposes of witchcraft and electoral and administrative fetishism.
We are confident because we know that you are aware of what we can not have order and security in a society where there is injustice.
The Gabonese no longer tolerate impunity for those who are characterized custodians of public authority and does not suffer for their wrong doings, their transgressions and their breaches.
Finally, we are confident because we know you raised up more than before, since December 17.
My dear friends, the task of politics and politicians is to trace the prospects for our struggle to have any chance of success.
We must therefore be given to the existence of our people something that seems to miss that is to say a sense both in terms of the meaning of our struggle, but also the direction of it.
To Gabonese present here and beyond, those listening in deep Gabon, I propose to establish a new pact.
The pact must be based on the return to the Republic and the modernization of our behavior.
Back to the roots of the Republic should make us understand how our country has a democratic deficit almost unique in Africa.
Gabon since 1990 missed the democratic opening that would have allowed the acquisition and recognition of a number of rights to the opposition and individual and collective freedoms for citizens.
This model, which is the requirement for progress and justice, was unfortunately not implimented in Gabon.
In response, we must adopt a civic and one republic-oriented attitudes.
Because citizenship is both the basis of the functioning of a Republic and democracy, and it must be a founder of our current fight for real change.
Being a citizen means being aware of our rights and exercise them without complacency or weakness.
Being a citizen is to set goals for the general interest and the means to achieve them. And the first goal for us today here in Gabon is to impose political change quickly.
Being a citizen is in many ways being a humanist with the ultimate goal, the liberation of the human being.
Dear brothers and sisters, this imperative of citizenship which is the soul of democracy and the Republic system requires deep cultural change and changing in attitudes.
In this spirit, I ask you to defend your rights.
I ask you not to tolerate any injustice you feel being subject to.
I ask you not to let anyone dictate to you the things that go against your beliefs.
I ask you not to let anyone walk all over you without reacting.
I urge you to resist, because the first duty of a free conscience, is to resist oppression wherever it comes from.
I invite you to abandon your usual "what will we still do?" (or, there is nothing we can do about it).
I ask you not to give in to intimidation, blackmail and fear. Nothing is more against the Republic and democracy then smug attitudes of submission, resignation, irresponsibility and refusal to assume and guarantee respect for your rights.
And the choice is yours, because the legitimacy of political power and our current fight, come from you.
That's what we want,
This is the ambition we believe in,
That's the dynamic that leads us.
Dear compatriots, with you, we want to live in a Republic and create conditions for an alternate and sustainable democracy.
I just told you the method and instructions.
But we can really succeed only if you trust us and if we in our turn, we respect the word that we give you.
It is this new and refounded covenant that we are offering.
To all Gabonese who are here in Gabon and those living abroad, we say have confidence and faith in the relevance of our efforts and success of our work.
Long live the People of Gabon
Long live the Republic
Long live democracy.
Lawyer to the Bar of Gabon
CENTRE FOR PROMOTION OF DEMOCRACY
AND HUMAN RIGHTS IN GABON
Non-governmental, non-partisan and non-profit organization
Final receipt No. 112/MISPID/SG/CEI of December 10, 2009
BP 6807 - Libreville - Tel. : 06 26 73 12 –
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