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[Edito] Gabon and Commonwealth: the whims of Prince Ali

A "contempt of the population", a "whim of the prince" or a simple "bad choice" ... The words of Gabonese human rights defenders are harsh towards their president, who has decided to join the Commonwealth. At the time of the football transfer window, the player Ali Bongo is therefore looking for a new club. It must be said that relations between the Gabonese head of state and France are at their lowest. And by meeting Baroness Patricia Scotland, the Secretary General of the Commonwealth, and Prince Charles, Ali Bongo embarks on a diplomatic blackmail operation that should bring him nothing, if not trouble. To integrate the intergovernmental organization, Gabon must show its white paws in terms of promoting the rule of law, respect for human rights and democracy. And in view of the situation there, the country is far from fulfilling the expected criteria.

By denying France, Ali Bongo will at the same time deny his paternal heritage

But after all, if Uganda joined the Commonwealth, why wouldn't Gabon make it? Except that you have to ask yourself the right question: what would a French-speaking country do in an organization which mainly brings together the former British colonies, with the exception of Rwanda or Zambia, and which does not bring any added value in terms of economic exchanges or reduction of customs taxes? Of course, Gabon will be able to get closer to its new economic allies, the country having, in recent years, turned to Asian investors, some of whom have joined the Commonwealth. But in reality, Ali Bongo just wants to show France that he doesn't need her. An awkward gait. By denying Paris, Ali Bongo will at the same time deny his paternal heritage: "The Gabonese have a homeland, Gabon, and a friend, France", said at the time Omar Bongo, father of the current Gabonese president. A maxim that will soon no longer make sense.

A war of ego far from the concerns of the Gabonese people

This “prince's whim” owes a lot to the mistakes of Ali Bongo: since 2009, the son has tried to put an end to the strategy of the father, who had forged strong economic ties with his former colonial power. But at what cost ? Ali Bongo, however, did not put his country afloat. And today he wants to go further: in addition to economic gain, far from being certain, he hopes that the Union Jack flag will one day fly in Gabonese schools: the president would like English to become the second working language in Gabon, which at the time tried to break into the world of American funk without success. Since 2012, he has been in charge of developing the experience of English-French bilingualism. But the Gabonese expect something else: food, jobs and more freedoms. The Gabonese request for membership of the Commonwealth appears to be quite illusory for the population, who sees Ali Bongo's approach as one more fantasy. But also as a clumsy way to send for a stroll in France. A war of ego far from the concerns of its people who would like concrete actions.

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