Gabão, All Africa, Inglês


Yaounde, Cameroon — In Gabon, Christians joined Muslims this week to pray for peace as the country holds a month-long “national dialogue” intended to pave the way for military leaders to transfer power to a civilian government.

Clerics say that among the approximately 700 civilians who attended this year’s Eid al-Fitr prayers Wednesday at the Central Mosque in Gabon’s capital, Libreville, were scores of Christians. The Eid al-Fitr prayers marked the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

Tidjani Babagana, grand imam of Muslims in Gabon, told Gabon’s state TV that during prayers he launched an appeal for reconciliation, peace, temperance and internal harmony among citizens who are looking forward to changes at the helm of the government. He also reminded civilians who are waiting for the government to improve their living conditions that it is a prescription in the Holy Quran to respect state authority.

Babagana said both Muslims and Christians should celebrate Eid al-Fitr as a sign of fraternity, interreligious tolerance and living together in peace, despite the challenges Gabon is facing.

The faithful who gathered for prayers say the country has suffered a crime wave — including theft, assault and highway robbery — since transitional president General Brice Clotaire Oligui Nguema ordered the release of over 500 prisoners in late March.

The general seized power from President Ali Bongo in a bloodless coup last August. Nguema said he took control to improve living conditions in the oil-producing nation because its citizens remained poor during the 56 years of leadership by Ali Bongo and his father, Omar Bongo.

Gabon’s Civil Society Group says the central African state now faces the challenges of a transition to civilian rule. A transitional charter introduced by the general last November bars all members of the current government from becoming candidates in presidential elections, with the exception of Nguema.