afrol News, 21 April - Gabon's opposition National Union party, uniting several major parties since March, has finally been recognised by authorities and can function officially as a political party. It will be Gabon's main opposition party.
The National Union party was founded in Libreville on 10 March as a union of many of Gabon's main opposition parties. Amongst its leaders is André Mba Obame, who was an independent candidate at the August 2009 presidential elections in Gabon, were he polled second with 26 percent of the votes.
The aim of the large opposition merger was to finally put an end to fractionism in the country, which has allowed the ruling Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG) to stay in power in election after election. While Gabonese polls since the introduction of multi-party elections in 1990 have been neither free nor fair, the opposition never before managed to unite against ex-President Omar Bongo and his son, current President Ali Bongo.
Since the foundation last month, controversy has surrounded the National Union. Mr Mba Obame was accused of favouring a military coup in Gabon after he compared the situation of "general discontent" in the country with the situation in Niger.
Party President Zacharie Myboto had to downplay Mr Mba Obame's statements, saying he feared government would use them as an excuse to deny the new party's official registration.
An official recognition has been a slow process. But the Gabonese Minister of the Interior yesterday finally had signed the order to register the new party. Some signatures from the National Union however still had to be collected, according to the Ministry.
According to the Ministry and the opposition party, the registration of the National Union was just in time for the party to participate in by-elections for the Libreville parliament to be held in eight constituencies on 6 June. The new party still has to meet a one-week deadline to present its candidates to these by-elections.
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