Gabon’s Bongo snubs French WWII landing party

10th August 2004, Comments 0 comments

LIBREVILLE, Aug 10 (AFP) - President Omar Bongo has declined an invitation to attend ceremonies next weekend marking the 60th anniversary of Allied landings to liberate Nazi-occupied France because they coincide with celebrations of Gabon's independence, his office said Tuesday.

LIBREVILLE, Aug 10 (AFP) - President Omar Bongo has declined an invitation to attend ceremonies next weekend marking the 60th anniversary of Allied landings to liberate Nazi-occupied France because they coincide with celebrations of Gabon's independence, his office said Tuesday.   

The ceremonies commemorate Operation Dragoon, which began around the Mediterranean port of Toulon on August 15, 1944 and opened up the southern half of a pincer offensive launched 10 weeks previously by the D-Day landings in Normandy.  

French officials said last week that they wished to pay "legitimate homage" to more than 180,000 Arab and African soldiers then living under French colonial rule who took part in Dragoon.  

Bongo was one of 22 heads of state or government invited to join French host Jacques Chirac aboard the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle for the main ceremonies on Sunday.  

But a statement from Bongo's office said he could not accept because he was to preside over three days of celebrations marking Gabon's independence from France on August 17, 1960.  

It did not say who would represent Gabon.  

So far 16 foreign leaders have accepted Chirac's invitation. Britain and the United States, which provided the vast bulk of the troops in the D-Day landings, have said they will send government ministers.

 

© AFP

 

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article