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Move to strip Gabon opposition leader of immunity

15 March 2011 15 March 2011 Tags: No Comment Print This Post Print This Post

Source Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Legal authorities in Gabon have began moves to strip an opposition leader [Andre Mba Obame] who has declared himself president of his parliamentary immunity, sources said.

In a letter to the Speaker of the national assembly, seen by AFP, Justice minister Ida Reteno Assonouet called for the “lifting of parliamentary immunity concerning Andre Mba Obame, member for the first seat of Haut Como at Medouneu (in the province of Woleu-Ntem, in the north of the country) by the national assembly”.

Mba Obame, who claims he won the 2009 presidential election which put President Ali Bongo Ondimba in office, declared himself head of state and took refuge with his “government” of about 30 members at UN offices on January 25.

The letter says that Mba Obame “proclaimed himself president of the Republic of Gabon, took the oath and appointed a prime minister who formed a government.

Elected president

“By these actions, Mba Obame and his consorts have harmed order and public security, the authority of the state and the credit of the nation,” the letter said.

But, it added, Mba Obame is protected against prosecution by the immunity, which covers him as a parliamentarian.

Contacted by phone, Mba Obame told AFP that he didn’t feel “concerned” by this procedure.

“In my capacity as elected president, who has taken the oath, I gave up my mandate to my substitute. You cannot be president and a deputy (member of parliament) at the same time.”

That was why, he said, he had not taken his seat at the assembly since its new session began last week. He also pointed out that he was the only opposition figure targeted though several of its members had taken part in the self-proclamation.

Mba Obame is a former Interior minster and one-time heavyweight in the ruling party. His party, the National Union, was dissolved on January 27.

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