#COVID19: Citizen Coalition Gives Gabon Gov’t 7-Day Ultimatum To Suspend Strict Measures

The ultimatum on the Gabon govt is coming after several court mandated orders which it has jettisoned.

The Gabonese citizen coalition, COPIL CITOYEN, has given the country’s government and parliament up to Jan. 10, 2022 to rescind its strict COVID-19 measures and revert to a “more responsible, consensual, more proportionate and less politicisation of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

During a meeting in the country’s capital, Libreville, on Monday, Jan. 3, members of COPIL CITOYEN appreciated the Dec. 31, 2021 decision Number 045/CC by the country’s Constitutional Court that annulled Prime Ministerial Arrete Number 0685/PM of Dec. 24, 2021 but decided to take its fight to a new level.

According to Geoffroy Foumboula Libeka Makosso, the spokesperson of COPIL CITOYEN, “after the deadline, COPIL CITOYEN reserves the right to engage at any moment, all actions that it would judge necessary with a view to obtaining satisfaction for our demands.”

COPIL CITOYEN is now demanding that government publishes “without delay, the report of the parliamentary inquiry on the management of COVID-19 funds to throw light and educate public opinion on the unconventional management of financial resources put at the disposal of the government Committee for the Fight Against the Coronavirus (COPIL) within the context of the national plan for the fight against the pandemic.”

Within this context, COPIL CITOYEN, “in the name of the principle of citizen control of public action, demands the examination of all the reports on the management of funds at the disposal of the government Committee for the Fight Against the Coronavirus (COPIL) since the beginning of the pandemic.”

COPIL CITOYEN is also calling on the government to lift the health state of emergency at the end of the legal duration of the current term which must not exceed 45 days.

It also calls on the government to immediately and unconditionally abandon the charging of 50,000 FCFA for VIP PCR tests and also delay, unconditionally abandon its instauration of special travel authorisations which violate pertinent constitutional dispositions concerning free movement of citizens within the national territory.

The citizen coalition has also called on the government to replace the health state of emergency with a temporary national programme for the prevention and fight against the COVID-19, whose duration should not exceed the end of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, in a related development, there is an ongoing imbroglio between the government and the country’s Constitutional Court which began on Dec. 15, 2021 when the court ruled in favour of COPIL CITOYEN, which had prayed the court to nullify a government decision to impose new anti-coronavirus barrier measures effective Dec. 15, 2021.

The most contentious parts of the measures include the mandatory presentation of health passes such as an anti-COVID-19 vaccination card and PCR test results before being granted access to public offices as well as the very high cost of the tests which rose from being free of charge to 20,000 FCFA (about 40 US dollars) for ordinary tests and from 20,000 FCFA to 50,000 FCFA (about 100 US dollars) for VIP tests.

In the face of the government’s determination to ‘force’ the measures on the citizens, the Constitutional Court on Dec. 24, 2021 reiterated its decision to suspend the COVID-19 measures imposed by the government.

However, on the same day the Constitutional Court ordered the suspension of the measures after having declared them unconstitutional, the government re-imposed them by Arrete number 0685/PM of Dec. 24, 2021.

On Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021, the Constitutional Court presided by its president, Marie Madeleine Mborantsuo, once again declared the measures contained in the Dec. 24, 2021 Prime Ministerial Arrete number 0685/PM as unconstitutional and ordered that they be suspended by the government.

Citing Article 85 of the country’s Constitution, the Constitutional Court agreed with COPIL CITOYEN that the measures were a threat to freedom.

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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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