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Sunday, 13 January, 2002, 06:35 GMT
Gabon's opposition joins government

Reports from Gabon say the leader of the country's largest opposition party, Father Paul Mba Abessole, has persuaded the activists of his National Woodcutters' Rally or RNB/RPG, to allow the party to join the government.

The move was in response to an invitation from the country's president, Omar Bongo, to take part in what he has called collective management of the state.

The French news agency,AFP, quotes Father Paul, who is also mayor of Libreville, as saying that Gabon was experiencing a political, social, economic and cultural crisis.

He told activists that no one party could solve the problems alone. Correspondents say if Father Abessole's party joins the government it will be the first opposition party to do so since Gabon held its first multi-party election in 1990.

President Bongo's governing Gabonese Democratic Party won a comfortable majority in parliamentary elections in December that were marred by violence, organisational problems and a low turnout in the big cities.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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