afrol News, 6 May - André Mba Obame, Gabon's main opposition leader, has been stripped of parliamentary immunity as government prepares a treason case against him.
Mr Obame leads the one-year-old National Union party, uniting many of Gabon's main opposition parties. In the August 2009 presidential election, Mr Obame stood as an independent candidate, losing out to interim President Ali Bongo.
The Gabonese opposition leader in January created international headlines as he declared himself winner of the elections held 17 months earlier. The declaration was made on air on the television broadcaster TV+, owned by himself.
Mr Obame's declaration was widely seen as an attempt to copy the successes of the Tunisian revolution. The opposition leader urged the Gabonese people to take to the streets and demand President Bongo to step down.
The Gabonese opposition leader soon had to take refuge in the Libreville offices of the UN, creating further international fuzz. The limited marches in his support were firmly fought back by heavily armed police troops and government ordered the dissolution of the National Union party.
Since he left the UN offices in end-February, there has been a debate in Gabon about possible reactions against Mr Obame's "coup attempt", as it has been called several times by government sources.
Now, the Libreville parliament in a massive majority vote decided to lift the opposition MP's parliamentary privileges, including his immunity to criminal prosecution. Opposition MPs were not present during the vote.
Yesterday's vote, lifting Mr Obame's immunity, was immediately followed by an order by Gabonese authorities for his arrest on treason charges. The treason charges are based on harm to "public order and security."
The failed revolution and upcoming treason trial against Mr Obame represent a major setback for Gabon's opposition, which has been denied access to power ever since independence.
Mr Obame obtained 25 percent of the votes in the 2009 elections, according to official results, and it is widely understood that his support is not significantly larger among the Gabonese population. Rather, the now dissolved opposition will have lost much credibility due to the Obame affair.
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