Gabon’s interim government has sacked four ministers who are standing against the ruling party’s choice of Ali Ben Bongo, son of the late president, in upcoming elections, state television reported late on Wednesday.

Another minister has been removed in a government reshuffle that comes just weeks before Gabon is due to hold an election to replace late President Omar Bongo, who died in June after ruling the central African nation for over four decades.ALI BONGO

Casimir Oye Mba and Andre Mba Obame, former stalwarts of the ruling Gabonese Democractic Party (PDG) who have complained that Bongo, the son, was imposed on the party and are now running as independent candidates, have been sacked.

Oye Mba was minister for mines and oil and Mba Obame had been serving as minister in charge of government coordination. They have been replaced by Julien Onkogho Bekale and Josue Mbaeinga, respectively, state television reported.

No official reason for the reshuffle was given.

But two other politicians from the government, who were not members of the PDG but belong to allied political parties, have also been replaced after they announced plans to challenge Ali Ben Bongo in a poll that is expected to take place on August 30.

Paul Mba Abessolo, a vice prime minister who was also minister for culture and human rights, has been replaced by Philippe Nzengue Mayila after he announced that his party wanted him to run for president rather than support the PDG choice.

Likewise, Pierre Andre Kombila, who had held the hydrolectric resources and alternative energy portfolio has been removed after he joined the opposition against Bongo.

Kombila has been replaced by Sylvain Momoadjambo, another deputy minister who has been promoted. Meanwhile, a fifth minister, Vincent Essono Mengue, has been replaced in a government that now has 45, instead of 49 ministers.

Omar Bongo’s death left a void in a political landscape he had tightly managed but his son is widely seen as favourite to replace him as head of the oil-producing nation despite challenges from within the ruling party.



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