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Cablegate: Gabon: President-Elect Bongo's Whistle Stop Regional Tour

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RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMA RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHTRO
DE RUEHLC #0416 2581132
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 151132Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY LIBREVILLE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1415
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS LIBREVILLE 000416

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT FOR AF/C KORTE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM AO CD CF CG CM EK GB

SUBJECT: GABON: PRESIDENT-ELECT BONGO'S WHISTLE STOP REGIONAL TOUR

1. (U) Gabon's President-elect Ali Bongo Ondimba has spent the last
several days visiting heads of state in the Central Africa region.
On September 11, Bongo met with Cameroonian President Paul Biya in
Yaounde and President Denis Sassou Nguessou in Congo-Brazzaville.
On September 12, he was received by Chadian President Idris Deby and
Prime Minister Youssouf Saleh in N'Djamena. Bongo made a stop later
that day in Kinshasa to meet with President Joseph Kabila. On
September 14, Bongo called on Angolan President Eduardo Dos Santos
in Luanda, followed by a meeting with President Fradique de Menezes
in Sao Tome.
2. (U) From the coverage in the pro-government l'Union newspaper,
Bongo was received by the region's leaders with the protocol of a
head of state. In a bow to Ali Bongo's father, President Deby noted
the important role that the late President Bongo played in
preserving peace in the region. The newspaper said Bongo sought
advice from the heads of state and discussed Gabon's economic
cooperation with the neighboring members of the Economic and
Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC), Gulf of Guinea
Commission (CGG), and the Economic Community of Central African
States (CEEAC). Bongo reportedly did not address election-related
questions in public except to say that channels existed for the
other candidates to challenge the results of the August 30
presidential election, namely through the Constitutional Court.
3. (SBU) Missing from Bongo's first foray outside of Gabon was a
stop in Equatorial Guinea (EG) to meet with President Teodoro Obiang
Nguema. EG and Gabon have a long-simmering dispute over Mbanie
Island which lies in potentially oil-rich waters between the two
countries. More directly related to the election, during the
campaign rumors spread in Gabon of EG support for independent
candidate Andre Mba Obame. In a press statement on September 14,
EG's ambassador in Libreville denounced the Gabonese media role in
spreading rumors aimed at damaging the EG-Gabon bilateral
relationship.
4. (SBU) Comment: The private discussions during Bongo's regional
stops probably included bilateral and personal matters, such as the
tense relationship between Sassou Nguessou and the Bongo family
following the death in March 2009 of Edith Bongo, Omar Bongo's wife
and Sassou Nguessou's daughter. While the other 17 candidates in
the presidential election are not allowed to leave Gabon while the
riots in Port Gentil following the announcement of the election
results are under investigation, Ali Bongo has started to carry out
the foreign policy functions of a president. Furthermore, being
received like a head of state by neighboring leaders further cements
his claim to the presidency as the other candidates prepare
challenges to the election results.
REDDICK

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