Gabon Still Backs Jean Ping's AU Candidacy

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Three African countries voted for UN Resolution 1973, authorizing a no-fly zone over Libya, which NATO countries misapplied, leading to the deaths of thousands of Libyans, including Libyan leader, Moammar Gaddafi.

[Global: Africa]

The Gabonese Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Nelson Messore,
this evening threw a reception at the Millennium Hotel in New York to celebrate the end of Gabon's membership
in the United Nations Security Council, along with Nigeria and South Africa.

All three of the African countries voted for UN Resolution 1973, authorizing a no-fly zone over Libya, which NATO countries misapplied, leading to the deaths of thousands of Libyans, including Libyan leader, Moammar Gaddafi. 

But more importantly preceding the reception, was the Ambassador's press conference, refuting allegations that Gabon no longer supports the candidacy of Dr. Jean Ping, current Chairperson of the African Union Commission, the secretariat of the African Union, for a second term as Chairperson. The election is January 29, 2012, when African Heads of State meet in their new headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

These rumors were so strong that the Gabonese Ambassador to the African Union, Andre William Anguile held a press conference on December 20, 2011, in Addis Ababa, accusing some African and international media of spreading false rumors that Dr. Ping was withdrawing his candidacy, and secondly, that the Gabonese government was withdrawing its support for Ping's candidacy.  Some of the media went as far as to attribute this alleged non-support to Dr. Ping's divorce from the President's sister, Pascaline Bongo. Another accusation was that Dr. Ping was being supported by France, which has become a pariah to many African countries because of its role in Libya, especially.

But according to the two Ambassadors, nothing could be further from the truth. "Some African and international media organizations have recently been spreading false and misleading information, suggesting Jean Ping may withdraw his candidacy as chairperson of the African Union Commission. These same sources have further circulated rumors that the chairperson does not enjoy the support of his home country, Gabon. Nothing could be further from the truth," said Mr. Anguile.
 
In his own press conference, Ambassador Messore said, "The Government of Gabon refutes and rejects false and misleading information that some African and international media have recently relayed suggesting that Dr. Jean Ping may withdraw his candidacy for re-election. 
The Government equally refutes categorically rumours from the same sources alleging that the Chairperson does not enjoy the support of his home country, Gabon. Such information and rumours are simply false and unfounded."

He said that Dr. Ping enjoys the full support of President Ali Bongo Ondimba, and went on to detail the efforts made by the Gabonese government to support Dr. Ping's candidacy, including providing him with the necessary support for him to visit ten countries in mid-December.  "In August 2011, H.E. Ali Bongo Ondimba, President of the Gabonese Republic, formally notified the Chairperson of the African Union, H.E. Mr. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, President of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, of Gabon’s decision to present Dr. Jean Ping for re-election. On 8 September 2011, Gabon officially filed the candidacy, with the AUC Office of the Legal Counsel, through its embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. During the period of July to August 2011, Gabon conveyed its commitment and support to its candidate when President Ali Bongo Ondimba sent Special Envoys to African Heads of State chairing Regional Economic Communities (RECs), kindly seeking their support and that of other leaders in their respective Sub-regions. Several Emissaries were dispatched to the various RECs chairing countries:"

The President, said Ambassador Messore, had even sent messages to his African counterparts, "soliciting their support for Dr. Ping's candidacy," through their UN and AU Permanent Representatives.

Without mentioning France, Ambassador Messore's statement read, "Gabon strongly refutes rumours suggesting that candidate Jean Ping’s campaign is being funded by a non-African country. Such allegations are derogatory to the Gabonese Government, its People and the entire African Continent."

Dr. Ping is being opposed by South Africa's candidate, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Minister of Internal Affairs in the Zuma government, as well as former wife of President Zuma.
 
The New York event was attended by many African ambassadors and diplomats.


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