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Gabon bans demos for opposition leader's return

By AFP

LIBREVILLE (AFP) - Gabon said Friday it has banned gatherings by supporters of leading opposition figure Andre Mba Obame to mark his return to the country after 14 months abroad for health reasons.

Mba Obame, who was interior minister under the late president Omar Bongo, declared himself president in January last year after rejecting the election of the former leader's son Ali Bongo in 2009.

His action resulted in the regime officially dissolving his National Union Party, one of two main opposition groups in the west African nation. He claims the 2009 election was rigged.

Gabon presidential spokesman Alain-Claude Bilie-By-Nze said any gathering by his supporters to mark Mba Obame's return on Saturday "were not authorised," and that an apparent increase in security in Libreville was not connected.

Mba Obame risks a possible jail term of up to a year if he is convicted of disturbing public order over his 2011 proclamation, after his parliamentary immunity was lifted, his lawyer Lubin Ntoutoume said.

Mba Obame has spent about 14 months away having medical treatment in South Africa and France for a back problem.

"Thirteen months after I left Gabon in a wheelchair, I will be back very soon on both legs," he said last month from France. "Let those who reported me dead prepare to battle my ghost!"

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