Gabon opposition leader declared a 'public nuisance'

Supporters of the opposition's National Union party leader Andre Mba Obame take part in a demonstration in Libreville on August 15. Photo | AFP 

The public prosecutor for the Gabonese capital Libreville vowed Monday that the country's main opposition leader, Andre Mba Obame, would be arrested after a violent protest last week.

"Justice is slow but sure. I assure you that Mr Mba Obame will be arrested," prosecutor Sidonie-Flore Ouwe told journalists.

Tensions in Libreville have been simmering since police stopped an unauthorised protest Wednesday in support of Obame, who claims he won a 2009 election against current President Ali Bongo Ondimba.

Youths threw stones and bottles at police when they broke up the protest, drawing tear gas in return.

The unrest was the worst since rioting after the 2009 election, which saw Bongo succeed his father Omar following his death after 42 years in power.

Obame's dissolved party, the National Union, says one person was killed and dozens injured.

Ouwe also said that dozens of arrests had been made over the unrest, although she did not give a specific figure.


Thousands of people have turned out to support Obame, a former member of the ruling party who defected to the opposition, since he returned to Gabon on August 11 from 14 months abroad over health problems.

Asked twice what specific charges Obame's arrest is hinged on, Ouwe would not specify whether it would be related to Wednesday's protest or to his claim to be the legitimate president of Gabon.

"I'm telling you that this is a question that is not at all at the heart of my intervention but which is linked to the events that we deplore today," she said.

"The justice is not facing Mba Obame, it is Mba Obame who is facing the justice. He is no one special.

"Everyone knows what Mba Obame has done or caused according to (what they read in the press). But they do not have the necessary elements ... to arrest him," the prosecutor added.

The opposition leader was already facing arrest on charges of creating a public nuisance, for which he faces up to a year in prison after being stripped of his parliamentary immunity, according to his lawyer.

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