| LIBREVILLE, Sept 29
LIBREVILLE, Sept 29 Gabon's opposition leader
Jean Ping called on Thursday for national talks to form a "new
republic" and urged foreign powers to impose sanctions on allies
of President Ali Bongo, sworn in this week after a disputed
election in the oil-producing nation.
Ping remained intransigent during his speech in the capital
Libreville, saying he refused to recognise Bongo's presidency.
But his appeal for dialogue -- albeit on his own terms -- could
help usher in a return to normal after post-election violence
last month killed at least six people.
Ping ridiculed Bongo's earlier appeals for talks, saying
that the president, who came to power in a contentious 2009
election following his father Omar Bongo's death after 42 years
in power, had won fraudulently.
Instead, he said he would organise his own talks, though he
provided few details.
"This inclusive national dialogue will be...the occasion to
put in place the foundations of a new republic," he said.
Ping also called for sanctions against the authors of what
he called "a military-electoral coup d'etat" and urged the
prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to come to Gabon
to investigate violence after Bongo was declared the winner.
Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement on
Thursday that she had begun a preliminary examination of the
situation in the country at the request of the government. She
will decide later whether to open a formal investigation.
Bongo's victory in last month's poll by less than 6,000
votes drew accusations of fraud from Ping. France called for a
recount and the European Union said it found anomalies in
Bongo's stronghold province of Haut-Ogooue, where he won 95
percent of the vote on a 99.9 percent turnout.
But fears of resurgent violence after the Constitutional
Court upheld Bongo's victory last week failed to materialise and
Bongo was sworn in at a subdued ceremony on Tuesday.
He has promised to name an inclusive new government in the
coming days and to address some of the issues that have fuelled
anger in the country of 1.8 million, like youth unemployment and
over-reliance on dwindling oil revenues.
However, the conduct of the poll may hurt his international
reputation as a reformer, analysts said. Just a handful of
African leaders attended his inauguration.
(Writing by Aaron Ross; editing by Ralph Boulton)