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Gabon: investigation opened on a recording attributed to the opposition

Gabon: investigation opened on a recording attributed to the opposition
Albert Ondo Ossa, nominated candidate for the Alternance 2023 opposition....   -  
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STEEVE JORDAN/AFP or licensors


Gabonese justice opened an investigation on Tuesday evening for remarks "which suggest an attack on state security" , after the broadcast of the recording of a conversation attributed to a candidate in the presidential election on Saturday and to another opposition figure, announced the public prosecutor of Libreville.

The main opposition platform, Alternance 2023, from which the two personalities come, had "categorically" denied, in a press release Monday evening, "the veracity and authenticity of this conversation". She had invoked "shameful manipulation" and "unacceptable practices of the regime".

Alternation 2023 had agreed on Friday, eight days before the ballot, on a common candidate, Albert Ondo Ossa, chosen from among six of his contenders for the supreme magistracy. Mr. Ondo Ossa therefore presents himself as the most serious rival of President Ali Bongo Ondimba, who is seeking a third term on Saturday after 14 years in power.

It is the recording of a conversation lent to Mr. Ondo Ossa with one of the candidates who withdrew in his favour, Alexandre Barro Chambrier, which is the subject of the investigation. It was widely taken up on social networks and in public and private Gabonese media.

"An audio recording circulating on social networks causes very strong emotion because of its shocking content (...) and would be a recording of a conversation between two politicians who are candidates for the presidential election", assures the prosecutor of the Republic of Libreville André Patrick Roponat in a press briefing broadcast by the public media.

"In this conversation, particularly serious remarks are made on several occasions which suggest an attack on state security", he adds in this address.

A video journalist, working for Gabonese media and also a freelancer for Agence France-Presse (AFP), assured Wednesday, in a post on Facebook, to be the author of this recording.

He claims to have made it on August 17 "inadvertently" in the premises of Alternance 2023, leaving his camera on in the room where MM met. Ondo Ossa and Barro Chambrier, after he had been asked to leave her. He adds that he then “sent it to colleagues” and that this recording was “found on social networks”.

AFP was unable to verify the integrity of this audio recording, in which the conversation is sometimes difficult to hear. "The Agency did not broadcast this recording made without the knowledge of its protagonists, which is incompatible with the rules of its editorial and ethical charter," said Sophie Huet, central editor-in-chief of AFP, on Wednesday.

In the audible extracts, the protagonists evoke scenarios and strategies to adopt for the presidential election, in order to "create a balance of power". They invoke alleged support in neighbouring countries but also from Ivorian presidents Alassane Ouattara and French president Emmanuel Macron.

On Saturday, some 850,000 Gabonese are called to the polls for the presidential, legislative and municipal elections, all in one round. Mr. Bongo will face 13 candidates.

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