Nine MPs quit Gabon parliament in fresh blow for president
– Nine parliamentarians from Gabon’s ruling party said on Friday they had resigned from the National Assembly, a move likely to further stoke political tensions in the oil-rich central African nation ahead of a presidential election due in August.
The nine said they had resigned in support of three other colleagues expelled from President Ali Bongo’s ruling Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG) in March. The 12 lawmakers have formed a breakaway faction called PDG-Heritage and Modernity which plans to nominate its own candidate for president to challenge Bongo.
“We, deputies who are members of Heritage and Modernity … inform the international and national audience of our collective resignation from the National Assembly,” the nine lawmakers said in a statement to reporters.
Their departure underlines a growing rift between Bongo, who took power in a disputed election in 2009, and the legislature. Gabon’s long-serving parliamentary speaker resigned on Thursday citing personal attacks on him by the government.
Under Gabon’s laws, the resignation of the nine lawmakers means the constitutional court must organise a partial legislative election, but that would require a minimum of three months to prepare and would strain the budget in the countdown to the presidential poll expected on August 28.
Bongo, who came to power after the death of his father, longtime ruler Omar Bongo, is expected to win a second seven-year term under a single-round electoral system that critics say favours the incumbent.
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