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Monday, July 20, 1998 Published at 22:21 GMT 23:21 UK

World: Africa

Gabon's opposition splits

Gabon's main opposition party, the National Woodcutters' Rally, has split into two factions ahead of presidential elections in December.

The division became apparent at the weekend when a dissident group met to endorse the sacked first secretary, Pierre Andre Kombila, as the party's candidate for the poll.

The gathering also described the Woodcutter's leader, Father Paul Mba Abessole, as a dictator who was guilty of high treason.

Father Abassole, who founded the party in 1990, dismissed the rival gathering.

His supporters are due to meet next weekend to elect him as the party's challenger to President Omar Bongo.

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