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Gabon's new prime minister outlines plans for national dialogue

Gabon's interim Prime Minister Raymond Ndong Sima   -  
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Gabon's military-installed prime minister, Raymond Ndong Sima, on Wednesday outlined plans for a "national dialogue" to be organised next year which he said would pave the way for drawing up a new constitution.

Speaking at a press conference almost a month after a coup d’etat which ousted President Ali Bongo, he said an appeal for contributions towards the dialogue would go out from next week.

"Everyone has something to say. Men, women, old people, young people, people in housing estates, people in towns, in villages, everyone has an opinion and that's normal,” he said.

Ndong Sima said he aims to put forward a summary of these contributions by the end of January, which will provide the working basis for the national dialogue to take place hopefully between April and June.

"Why do we have a limited time to do this? Because we can't go on forever in a transition situation with a military command,” he said.

“We are a civil society. We belong to institutional bodies and we must respect the clauses of these bodies."

Gabon’s coup leader, and now transitional president, General Brice Oligui Nguema, has promised to hand back the country to civilian rule with elections after a transitional period.

No timeframe has been given however.

The coup brought an end to close to 60 years of control of the oil-rich Central African country by the Bongo family.

The family’s dynastic rule created widespread discontent, with critics saying they did little to share Gabon’s wealth with its citizens.

Ndong Sima, a French-educated economist and outspoken critic of Ali Bongo, had served as his prime minister from 2012 to 2014 before resigning.

He ran against him for president in the 2016 elections and again this year as part of an opposition coalition.

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