Gabon - peaceful elections: Elders and civil society in step with the United Nations

Peace is the main priority of the Gabonese notables and of the UN as well as of the representatives of the associations met by the Head of UNOCA. Photo UNOCA/Norbert N. Ouendji

22 Aug 2023

Gabon - peaceful elections: Elders and civil society in step with the United Nations

A delegation from the Council of Notables and Dignitaries of the Nation (CNDN), led by its President, former minister Paul Malekou, exchanged on Monday, 21 August 2023 at UNOCA headquarters with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for Central Africa, Abdou Abarry. The four members of the Council mobilized for this purpose wanted to express their concerns with regard to certain situations which, from their point of view, deserve continued attention with the main objective of preserving peace before, during and after the general elections (presidential, legislative and local) of 26 August 2023. At this point in the process, they invite citizens to show resilience and, if necessary, to express their dissatisfaction calmy and considering the safety of property and people. In view of this, the elders of Gabon call on competent authorities to play their supervisory role, including by ensuring the protection of civilians as well as their integrity.

The Head of UNOCA welcomed this wise approach, stressing that it was in line with his mandate. He said he was confident about the commitment of various stakeholders to go in the direction desired by the notables and dignitaries of the nation. In this regard, he spoke of his optimism following his audiences with President Ali Bongo Ondimba, including that of 11 August 2023.

Mr. Abarry reiterated his determination to continue to offer the good offices of the UN Secretary-General in order to guarantee elections without violence. He recalled that, although his function requires the adherence to neutrality vis-à-vis the facts and testimonies brought to his attention, it was also his duty to ensure that everything took place under conditions that make it possible to strengthen stability and coexistence. “Gabon must emerge stronger from this electoral process stronger, not weakened,” he summed up, stressing the need for all socio-political actors to show restraint and avoid inflammatory speeches as well as hate messages. The Head of UNOCA encouraged the civil society to intensify awareness on the dangers of these scourges. During a separate meeting with around 20 of its representatives, he also hailed the commitment of different parties to a peaceful, inclusive, free and credible electoral process - during which all voices count, including those of people living with disabilities. Mr. Abarry promised to listen to them and to take all necessary measures, within the framework of his mandate, to support their actions aimed at consolidating peace and democracy in Gabon.

The meetings of the Head of UNOCA with the Council of Notables and Dignitaries of the Nation and with members of Gabonese civil society come after the meeting held on 8 August 2023 with the opposition grouped within the coalition Alternance 2023. The UN Resident Coordinator in Gabon, Ms. Savina Ammassari, took part in all these meetings.