Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Gabonese model Gloria Mika starts a watch-group for transparency in Gabon elections

Gabonese model Gloria Mika talks about a watch network she has started for transparency in the Gabon elections.

PARIS, FRANCE (AUGUST 11, 2009)REUTERS - Gloria Mika, a Greco-Gabonese model living in Paris, put her modelling career on hold and is focusing her attention on the forthcoming elections in Gabon, expected sometime between the end of August and September 6, 2009.
Mika is campaigning for more transparency in the electoral process and is one of the founders of a watch-group called ''Guardian Angels of Gabon,'' she said on Tuesday (August 11).

The group is being actively promoted on internet forums like Facebook and Myspace for Gabonese citizens to come forward and express their views.

Mika also launched a petition through her page on Myspace.

The group demands that the forthcoming elections be postponed. They feel they were organised in a hurry, with some citizens not being able to register to caste their ballots.

"Apparently there are Gabonese people in Gabon who demonstrated and are complaining because they didn't have time to register. I think that we must not confuse speed with haste. We all want a President pretty quickly so that the country doesn't stay in this period of transition for too long. But I think we should also reflect and make sure that things are done in the best conditions," Mika said.

"Why are they bent upon this fixed date of the end of August, when everybody is on holiday? Maybe they think that the West won't necessarily have their eyes on Gabon and that they could do as they please and perhaps give way to a fraud? Why should there be a feeling of doubt in the air and sully the credibility and legitimacy of this election, if we are capable of doing better and really prove that we can organise a democratic election in Gabon," the model added.

The elections were called after Omar Bongo, Africa's longest-serving leader, died in June 2009.

The ruling Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG) nominated Bongo's son, Ali Ben Bongo, to run for presidency and opposition figures have expressed concern the elections will be neither free nor fair. They fear the elections will guarantee the succession of Ali Ben Bongo to the position his father held for more than four decades, during which he became one of Africa's richest men.

Mika echoes those concerns.

"I can understand that he is a little offended by the fact that he is being judged for being biased in these elections. I mean in terms of neutrality, one can do better. I absolutely understand that this bothers certain candidates. And not only the candidates, but the citizens of Gabon are also revolting and asking for the resignation of this candidate, even if he hasn't broken the law as such. If he presents himself as the candidate of a national consensus and aspires to listen to the people tomorrow, perhaps it would be better if starts listening to them today" Mika said.

So these days, Mika attends more political meetings than fashion shows.

On Tuesday, Ali Ben Bongo was expected in Paris and a political meeting had been organised by the Gabonese embassy in Paris. But Bongo cancelled at the last minute and was replaced by his spokesperson.

Mika, who is also studying communication in Greece, admits it's unusual to find models fighting for political justice. For the cosmopolitan young woman who lived in Gabon, Senegal, South Africa, the United States, Greece and France, her political commitment is also a way to keep in touch with one of her homes.