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Rights groups urge French PM to disown Bongo

LIBREVILLE,  (AFP) – Rights groups and trade unions in Gabon on Saturday called on French Prime Minister Francois Fillon to condemn and withdraw support for President Ali Bongo Ondimba.

Fillon is due in the capital Libreville later Saturday, where he will meet with Bongo, whose government is a key French military and economic partner in central Africa.

“France, the country of human rights and of the citizens of the 1789 (French Revolution) must no longer support this criminal regime, this disgraceful dictatorship,” 13 organisations said in a co-signed public letter.

Bongo took power in Gabon in 2009 after the death of his father, Omar Bongo, who led the country for 42 years.

The letter said Gabon has been “plunged into unspeakable desolation,” with “the general collapse of essential infrastructure,” and alleged that “corruption has touched all spheres of the regime.”

The letter also accused the Bongo family of stealing national resources.

Fillon, while visiting Ivory Coast on Friday, said the criticisms made regarding France’s role in Africa — including its support for suspect regimes — are “outdated.”

International rights groups have accused the Libreville regime of shameless corruption, and US President Barack Obama was widely criticised for receiving Bongo at the White House last month.


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