To everyone’s surprise, Albert Ondo Ossa was nominated by the main opposition platform as a “consensual” candidate against outgoing President Ali Bongo Ondimba for the Gabonese presidential election on August 26th.
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Ali Bongo Ondimba’s opponent is designated. A platform bringing together the main opposition parties in Gabon announced on Friday August 18, to everyone’s surprise, the appointment of Albert Ondo Ossa as a “consensual” candidate against the outgoing president in the presidential election on August 26.
As in 2016 around Jean Ping, defeated in extremis in a disputed presidential election against Ali Bongo, the main tenors of the opposition still opted, seven years later, for the union, they who advanced until present in scattered order.
Six candidates had joined Alternance 2023, a platform which had given itself the objective of nominating a common candidate, in particular in order to avoid the dispersion of the votes in an election where 18 contenders compete.
Albert Ondo Ossa, 69, former Minister of Education and Higher Education of Omar Bongo Ondimba, who ruled the country with an iron fist for more than 41 years, was appointed by Alternance 2023 after d intense negotiations Thursday and Friday.
“I am particularly moved and I would like to thank all the party presidents”, he declared, surrounded by the six other candidates, before calling for the mobilization of “all those who suffered from this system”, at eight polling days.
The discussions were held in the premises of the Réagir party, neighboring the former headquarters of Jean Ping, which had been stormed by the security forces after post-election violence triggered by the announcement of the re-election of Ali Bongo on August 31, 2016.
This year, the six candidate members of the coalition have all pledged to withdraw their candidacy in favor of the consensual candidate, assured AFP François Ndong Obiang.
Far from being a favourite, Albert Ondo Ossa was notably opposed to three former ministers: Alexandre Barro Chambrier, of the Rassemblement pour la patrie et la modernité (RPM), Paulette Missambo, of the National Union (UN), and ex-member of the all-powerful Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG), and Raymond Ndong Sima, former Prime Minister of Ali Bongo.
But if the union was late, the opposition had recently criticized with one voice the establishment of a “single ballot” for the presidential and legislative elections by decree in early August.
This novelty makes it possible to “link the destiny of the president and the deputy” within the framework of these two single-member ballots which will take place simultaneously on August 26, details the Gabonese Election Center (CGE).
With the single ballot, voters will vote only once for these two ballots, and necessarily in favor of a candidate for the presidential election and a candidate for the legislative election from the same party, specifies the CGE.
Concretely, “who wants to vote for a deputy PDG in the legislative election systematically votes for Ali Bongo Ondimba”, candidate of the ruling party in the presidential election, indicates the institution, questioned by AFP.
Appeals by the opposition and civil society to the Constitutional Court, denouncing a violation of the “separation of powers”, were rejected on Monday August 14.
“The adoption of a single ballot violates the freedom of choice of many voters”, denounced François Ndong Obiang on Friday, underlining the platform’s desire to “prioritize the presidential election” to “thwart the trap set by the government in place”.
Ali Bongo, 64, was first elected in 2009 on the death of his father Omar Bongo Ondimba, then narrowly re-elected in 2016.
If elected for a third term, he could reach the age of 19 at the head of this small oil state in Central Africa.
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