#COVID19: 12,000 Gabonese Sign Petition Against New Restrictive Measures In 6 Days

“We have never seen such enthusiasm in less than one week,” a COPIL CITOYEN official declared happily.

About 12,000 Gabonese have signed a petition initiated by the COPIL CITOYEN movement which has been campaigning against the draconian anti-coronavirus measures instituted by the government within the first six days since the launching of the petition.

According to COPIL CITOYEN, the petition which was launched on Thursday, Dec.23, has already been signed by 11,000 persons in Libreville the capital alone as well as hundreds of other persons in the interior of the country and online.

Launched before one of its initiators, Geoffroy Foumboula Libeka Makosso was quizzed by the Constitutional Court which he and his colleague Jean Valentin Leyama had petitioned for the annulment  of Arrete Number 559/PM of Nov. 25, 2021 instituting strict anti-coronavirus barrier measures, the petition is intended to convince the national leadership and the higher judicial authority that the populations are not in favour of the government’s anti-COVID-19 measures it has put in place.

So far, 6,739 Gabonese have signed the petition online, 3,600 signatures in Libreville and about 1,500 citizens in the interior of the country have signed it.

“We have never seen such enthusiasm in less than one week,” a COPIL CITOYEN official declared happily.

The Gabonese Constitutional Court on Friday, Dec. 24,  issued Decision Number 212/PCC annulling Prime Ministerial Order Number 0559/PM which instituted new draconian measures against the coronavirus effective from Dec. 15.

However, in a decision seen as a slap in the face of the Constitutional Court, the government of Gabon on the same day the annulment of the Prime Ministerial Order was announced, issued a new order reinstituting the same measures annulled by the Constitutional Court.

Declaring that it had taken note of the Constitutional Court decision, the Gabonese government issued a new Arrete Number 0685 fixing new measures against the propagation of the COVID-19.

The government, through the Communication Adviser in the Ministry of Interior, said it was re-imposing the anti-COVID-19 measures in conformity with the dispositions of Article 5 of Law Number 003/2020 of May 11, 2020 fixing the preventive measures to fight against health catastrophes in which the legislator defines the modalities of intervention by public authorities in the management of catastrophes. 

According to the new order, vaccinated passengers entering the country are exempt from observing the quarantine period and the coronavirus test is obligatory on the arrival of all passengers in the country. For non-vaccinated passengers entering Gabonese national territory, they must be tested on arrival and subjected to quarantine for five days in an approved hotel.

The new order increases the number of weekly international flights from two to five per each airline company and guarantees free movement of vaccinated persons within the country while unvaccinated individuals must present a negative PCR test result valid for fourteen days and must obtain special authorization from the Ministry of Interior for all journeys.

The new order re-imposes the end of free PCR tests which will henceforth cost 20,000 FCFA (about 40 US dollars) and 50,000 FCFA (about 100 US dollars) for VIP tests. The said tests would be valid for 14 days within the national territory and three days for international travelers.

Persons desirous to access public places notably administrative offices, enterprises, restaurants and snack bars must present valid negative PCR test results and vaccinated persons must present vaccination cards or attestations. Vaccinated persons are authorized to travel freely during curfew hours and all companies whose workers have been vaccinated are exempted from curfew measures and can thus access restaurants, snack bars etc.

In effect, the government has re-imposed the Covid-19 restrictive measures which forced the civil society organization, COPIC CITOYEN, to take the government to the Constitutional Court and pray the court to order the government to rescind the measures, a thing the Constitutional Court did.

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Chief Bisong Etahoben

Chief Bisong Etahoben is a Cameroonian investigative journalist and traditional ruler. He writes for international media and has participated in several transnational investigations. Etahoben won the first-ever Cameroon Investigative Journalist Award in 1992. He serves as a member of a number of international investigative journalism professional bodies including the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR). He is HumAngle's Francophone and Central Africa editor.

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