April 5, 2016 / 5:57 PM / 2 years ago

Gabon former parliament speaker to challenge Bongo in polls

LIBREVILLE (Reuters) - Gabon’s former parliament speaker Guy Nzouba Ndama said on Tuesday he would run against the incumbent Ali Bongo for the presidency of the central African oil producer.

The announcement is the latest blow for Bongo, who has been grappling with the formation of a breakaway faction of his Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG) and the resignation of about a dozen parliamentarians, including Ndama.

Bongo’s announcement that he would seek re-election before the party confirmed his candidacy at its convention rankled some within PDG and dissidents have complained of dysfunction within the party and said Bongo has mismanaged the country.

Speaking at a rally attended by 2,000 people in the capital Libreville, Ndama said he would run as an independent in the election in August.

Despite the turmoil, Bongo, who came to power in 2009 after the death of his father, longtime ruler Omar Bongo, is expected to win a second seven-year term under a single-round electoral system that critics say favors the incumbent.

Ndama, who headed the National Assembly for nearly two decades and who campaigned for Bongo in 2009, cited personal attacks on him by the government in his resignation letter last week.

Former African Union commission chief Jean Ping has also announced his intention to run for president.

Reporting by Gerauds Wilfried Obangome; Writing by Marine Pennetier; Editing by Makini Brice

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