At the end of the council of ministers held on 18 December 2020, the Gabonese learned that an amendment to the constitution was being planned. The international organisation Tournons La Page rejects with the greatest energy the draft law amending articles 4, 7, 10, 13, 13a, 14a, 14d, 28a, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 41, 48, 58a, 61, 62, 73, 78, 80, 83, 84, 85, 90 and 112 of the Constitution of the Gabonese Republic. This umpteenth amendment by bill and not by referendum constitutes a profound democratic step backwards for a country that has surprisingly been elected a member of the United Nations Council for Human Rights.
This draft amendment to the Basic Law focuses on :
- Article 13a which stipulates that in the event of a power vacuum or permanent impediment of the Head of State, the interim of the presidential function will be assumed by a College composed of the two Presidents of the two Chambers of Parliament and the Minister of National Defence;
- Article 35 which now gives the power to the President of the Republic to appoint Senators;
- Article 78 which grants absolute immunity to the Head of State once he has completed his duties.
Tournons La Page denounces :
- the lightness with which the Constitution of the Republic, the foundation of the living-together of the Gabonese people, is once again being modified at the sole whim of a minority of privileged people;
- the violation of the principle of the separation of powers enshrined in Article 5 of the Gabonese Constitution, by allowing the President of the Republic, who comes under the executive power, to appoint Senators who come under the legislative power;
- the militarisation of the executive power materialised by the elevation of the Minister of Defence to the rank of Acting President of the Republic, in the same way as the Presidents of institutions elected as parliamentarians by the people to exercise legislative power and control the executive power.
It should be recalled that Gabon has been living for months under a state of health emergency. This clearly means in a state of exception. However, there can be no revision of the Constitution in a situation of exception. Tournons La Page calls for the pure and simple withdrawal of this proposal for constitutional revision.
Tournons La Page appeals to the republican sense of the Gabonese parliamentarians to whom this project will be submitted for adoption and reminds them of their responsibility before history.
Finally, in view of the Gabonese people's repeated expression since the 1990s of their thirst for democracy, Tournons La Page questions the governmental and institutional authorities of the Republic on the seriousness of such excesses and invites all the actors of civil society, opinion leaders, political actors of the majority and the opposition to do everything possible to prevent this bill from thriving.
Done in Libreville, 21 December 2020
For TLP-Gabon - Nathalie ZEMO EFOUA, coordinator
For the international coalition of TLP - Marc ONA ESSANGUI, President