The Ambassador of Gabon to the United States/Permanent Representative of Gabon to the United Nations has written to the Atlantic Council on behalf of President Ali Bongo Ondimba to communicate that the president will no longer be traveling to the United States this month due to the situation in his country. Therefore, he will not be available to accept an Atlantic Council Global Citizen Award during the organization’s annual awards dinner in New York on September 19, 2016. 

The letter quotes a message from the president to the Council stating: “I accepted not for my own sake but because the award really honors the Gabonese people and our efforts to protect our environment, fight against poaching and trafficking of our precious wildlife, and, above all, to maintain peace, security, and stability.”

He added, “It is to protect those accomplishments and to ensure progress in the future that I must, regrettably, communicate that I will be unable to be with you in New York on September 19. As you know, the Gabonese people voted in national elections on August 27. While the voting was widely hailed for its organization and peaceful carrying out, sadly the announcement of the results by the independent electoral commission were marred by unfounded contestations and violence by some parties. Order has been restored and the Government welcomes the African Union initiative to assist in a resolution within the framework of the Gabonese constitution. However, my first obligation is to stay in Gabon and engage with this process to defend our constitutional order and to help restore the tranquility without which we cannot continue to advance as a nation.”

The Atlantic Council respects Gabonese President Ali Bongo’s decision to forego receiving his Global Citizen Award this year due to the overriding priorities he has in his country.