Gabon's new PM outlines plans for national dialogue

AFP , Wednesday 27 Sep 2023

Gabon's military-installed prime minister on Wednesday outlined plans for a "national dialogue" to be organised next year which would pave the way for drawing up a new constitution.

Raymond Ndong Sima
Gabon s new Prime Minister Raymond Ndong Sima in Libreville, 10 September 2023. AFP


Nearly a month after military leaders ousted President Ali Bongo Ondimba after 14 years at the helm of the oil-rich country, Raymond Ndong Sima told a press conference that an appeal for contributions towards the dialogue would go out from next week.

Last week, Ndong Sima defended the takeover before the United Nations as a "lesser evil", saying the intervention prevented bloodshed.

Coup leader General Brice Oligui Nguema, who was swiftly sworn in as transitional president, has promised to hand back the country to civilian rule with elections after a transitional period.

However, no timeframe has been given.

Ndong Sima said contributory ideas would be sought from "all categories" of the population.

That process will be a prelude to organising a national dialogue, which he said he hoped would take place between April and June.

"Everyone has something to say" including on overhauling the political system and institutions, he said.

People need to be given "between 45 and 60 days" to make a "serious" contribution, he added.

A summary will be compiled from the contributions which will then provide the working basis for the national dialogue, Ndong Sima said.

He later told AFP by telephone that the next step would be to hold a "constituent assembly" to draw up a draft constitution.

The aim would be to translate "all the points discussed during the dialogue into consitutional text", he added.

He said he hoped to put forward a summary document at the end of January.

It is for the national dialogue to decide on a timetable for the transition from military to civilian power, he said.

"We can't go on forever being in a transition period under military command," said Ndong Sima, a French-educated economist who had earlier served as prime minister under Bongo.

Short link: