Statement by Ambassador Akuetteh

I am honored and truly delighted to be the U.S. Ambassador to Gabon. I am grateful to President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry for the trust they have placed in me to represent the people of the United States. Throughout my career, I have strived to broaden and deepen the already strong cooperation and partnership between the United States and Africa, and I am honored to have the chance to work directly with you, the Gabonese people, to build on and advance the many shared values and interests of our two countries.

In this connection, I note that the United States is watching carefully the political scene in Gabon. We support and encourage healthy political debate, and we believe that reasoned exchange and constructive dialogue on substantive issues are good for democracy. The United States will strongly condemn any attempts to change government through extra-constitutional means. Gabon has long been a model of stability in a fragile region, and I know that the Gabonese people are proud of this legacy. All sides have a responsibility to work to preserve that stability. Calls for insurrection or for violence are abhorrent and unacceptable.

Rather, all sides should commit themselves to open and inclusive dialogue, and I have been encouraged in recent weeks by public calls for this from a number of Gabonese leaders. Any political change should come through democratic means. Gabon will hold elections in 2016. Those who aspire to lead Gabon in the next stage of its history should focus on the electoral process and prepare to compete in it on the basis of a positive vision for the future and respect for Gabonese laws and international norms of transparency.

The United States extends its friendship to Gabonese of all political beliefs who share our commitment to democracy and peaceful resolution of political differences.