By Ajong Mbapndah L
Former Gabonese Prime Minister Casimir Oye Mba says he will be making another President run if he earns the nomination of his party and the opposition coalition he and other and leaders are putting together to challenge incumbent President Ali Bongo in upcoming elections
Interviewed in Washington,DC, where he is currently visiting, Mr Oye Mba, who heads the National Union opposition party said he is seeking the nomination from his party and if he wins , he will present himself as a candidate from the ranks of the opposition coalition that his party is part of .
On the state of the country, Mr Oye Mba said Gabon was going through very tough and challenging times on all fronts. The government of President Ali Bongo has shunned all overtures for national dialogue to discuss wide ranging issues affecting the country. Mr Oye Mba said the opposition will love to see reforms on the electoral code, a limitation of Presidential mandates to two terms , reforms on the existing institutions in the country and mechanisms to facilitate more transparent and efficient management of state resources. The intransigence of the Bongo led government has led to heightened tensions in the country ,said Oye Mba.
Explaining the pomp of discord between him and the current ruling party which he served in senior positions for decades, Mr Oye Mba said there were no similarities between the party he served , and what is in place today except in the name.
“I served under President Omar Bongo, and Ali Bongo and Omar Bongo are two different people,’ Mr Oye Mba said derisively . Late President Omar Bongo was a man of dialogue, a leader who listened to his people, patriotic, governed with wisdom and always sort to build consensus,and most of these qualities are found wanting in his successor, Ali Bongo, Mr Oye Mba said.
“My vision for the country will be radically different from what Ali Bongo has served Gabon for the last seven years,” said Mr Oye Mba. How comes Gabon with a smaller population and huge resources is unable to have the kind of credible elections that took place in Benin, Mr Oye Mba asked , as he lashed out at President Ali Bongo and the ruling party for hijacking the electoral process to remain in power.
“The only reason that the government is reluctant to open up the electorate process and accept a two round ballot is because Gabonese will vote them out,” Mr Oye Mba went on.
In the face of such grim electoral prospects, could a single opposition candidate boast the chances of the opposition ,Mr Oye Mba was asked. It will, he said, affirming that he and other opposition leaders were working towards the presentation of a consensus candidate to challenge President Bongo. It will be one of the best scenarios to defeat Bongo , he said ,though he was conscious of the political divisions and ambitions of different leaders.
“There are also questions surrounding the eligibility of Ali Bongo to run for office in the first place,” Mr Oye Mba said joining the chorus of Gabonese opposition leaders who have expressed doubts on the true nationality of the current President. The Gabonese constitution reserves the office of the President for those born in Gabon and of Gabonese parents, and it is intriguing that Mr Ali Bongo has not been able to show his birth certificate to put to rest questions surrounding his origins , said Mr Oye Mba.
On the sluggish progress of democracy and integration in the Central African sub region, Mr Oye Mba said he finds it difficult to understand why, but agreed that the Central African sub region was indeed faring worse than other parts of the continent. Perhaps this has to do with the lack of political will, he quipped.
Mr Oye Mba who was the first African to serve as the the Governor of the Bank of Central African States -BEAC, said the debate on the monetary future of the sub region was a legitimate one. Central African countries made the independent choice to have the CFA as their currency and at any point there think it is not serving their interest, there can opt out he said. “It will however be my wish to see all the countries have one currency if they have to opt out instead of each country having its own currency,”Mr Oye Mba said.
Gabonese must first take the initiative to resolve their political issues and chart their own democratic future before calling on support from the international community, said Mr Oye Mba. He expressed hope that his compatriots will participate actively in the electoral process despite the intimidation from the government, and that there will be a positive outcome that ushers in fresh change and hope for the Gabonese people.