(Washington, DC) – Today, Gabon’s President-Elect, Dr. Jean Ping, met with Senate Foreign Affairs on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC during his official visit to the United States this week. During the meeting, Dr. Ping provided a briefing on the latest developments in the on-going crisis in Gabon following the August 27th presidential election where Ping defeated outgoing President Ali Bongo by a substantial margin. To date, Bongo has refused to accept the election results and allow the peaceful transfer of power despite intense domestic and international calls for transparency and respect for the rule of law.
Following his meetings the US Congress, Dr. Ping gave a speech on Capitol Hill and his remarks are included below in their entirety:
His Excellency Dr. Jean Ping, President-Elect, Gabon
Capitol Hill, Washington, DC
November 14, 2016
“Good evening everyone.
It is my honor to be with you. I know this is a busy time for you and I appreciate that you came this evening.
I just returned from a productive meeting with Senate Foreign Relations. And I look forward to meeting with senior officials at the State Department later this week.
I would like to thank and acknowledge the representatives from the United States and our other international allies that are here this evening. I thank the think tank, NGO, academic, and human rights leaders that have followed and supported Gabon during our current electoral crisis. I offer warm thanks to the courageous, engaged, and dedicated members of the Gabonese community in our diaspora who maintain a strong and powerful voice in Gabon from their home countries and who care deeply about the future of our great nation.
I will keep my remarks short because your time is valuable and our mission is simple.
First, I am the rightfully elected President of Gabon – chosen by the Gabonese people during the August 27, 2016 elections. The sovereign choice and will of the Gabonese people was clear and witnessed by domestic and international observers on the ground during the elections. The Gabonese people voted for me because I offered my vision that we could achieve a nation where every citizen can benefit from the riches our country has to offer to build a better, more prosperous future. They were tired of seeing all our great wealth in the hands of a powerful few while so many lived in poverty. And yes, when the people of Gabon voted, they declared unequivocally that true democracy cannot flourish under a half century of one clan rule. Our people said clearly that it is time for Ali Bongo to go.
Unfortunately, you all know what happened next. Ali Bongo substituted his own will for the will of the Gabonese people. When our people took to the streets to protest, he answered them with violence which took the lives of more than 100 of our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and children and wounded hundreds more. When our people tried to speak out about his injustice, he cut off the Internet access to the outside world. He even sent military helicopters swarming around my campaign headquarters to try to intimidate me and my supporters. They destroyed it with tanks, bombs, and bullets.
Ali Bongo continues to reject the results of the election and hopes that our people will get tired of protesting. He didn’t want me to go to Europe and here to the United States because he wants our national crisis to be forgotten by the international community. But enough is enough. The people of Gabon will not give up. I made a promise to them that I would fight to the very end. And that’s what I’m doing.
So, where do we stand now in our fight? Last week, we filed a new petition before the Constitutional Court to reverse their earlier decision that was based upon grossly fabricated results. This conduct absolutely is an injustice in the face of the African Charter that we all fought so hard to create. We are working with the EU and the US State Department to impose targeted sanctions – not on the Gabonese people, but on Ali Bongo and his government. We are also preparing our petition to bring Ali Bongo before the International Criminal Court.
But, why am I here speaking with you this evening? I have come to the United States to ask for your powerful support. We are not asking you for money. We are not asking for your troops. We are simply asking for you to stand with the people of Gabon and all the peoples and nations around the world who are trying to make democracy work the way that it is supposed to. We ask that the United States refuse to recognize Ali Bongo as Gabon’s president and demand that he accept the expressed will of our people made clear during the elections, so that I can do what the Gabonese people have chosen me to do: lead our country, strengthen our nation, and build our prosperous future.
Since I arrived in the United States a few days ago, so many people have asked for my opinion on the outcome of your presidential election, so here is my political analysis. Americans should be proud that your elections are an inspiration to us in Gabon. Not because of who won or lost, but that the rigorous campaigning, the passionate debate and protest, and the very public and peaceful transition of power is what democracy is made of. I do not believe that Americans’ political divisions overshadow the fundamental principle that you are united behind supporting democracy and the rule of law. Upholding that fundamental principle of democracy is what we’re fighting for in Gabon. And we need your support to make it clear to Ali Bongo that no one is above democracy. Not him. Not his corruption. Not his weapons. Not his intimidation. And certainly not his arrogance.
Once again, on behalf of the people of Gabon as their President-Elect, I thank you for your time, support, concern, and friendship. Please do not forget about our fight because we will continue fighting until we reach our goal.
God Bless Gabon.
I will now take a few questions.”
During his visit, Dr. Ping will meet with the US State Department, several prominent NGOs and think tanks, the Gabonese-American community as well as conduct a number of media interviews for US and international publications and TV programs.
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