Gabon celebrates 50 years of independence

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Gabon marked its 50th anniversary of independence from France on Tuesday with a grand military parade of some 7,000 men on the Libreville seafront watched by invited heads of state.

Troops of the French forces stationed in Gabon as well as soldiers from Senegal took part in the march-past, an AFP correspondent reported. Relations between France and oil-producing Gabon have always been close.

About a dozen heads of state flew in to join President Ali Bongo on the grandstand.

They included Benin's Thomas Yayi Boni, Burkina Faso's Blaise Compaore, Cameroon's Paul Biya, the Central African Republic's François Bozize, Chad's Idriss Deby Itno, the Republic of Congo's Denis Sassou Nguesso, the Democratic Republic of Congo's Joseph Kabila, Mali's Amadou Toumani Toure, Nigeria's Goodluck Jonathan, Sao Tome and Principe's Fradique de Menezes and Senegal's Abdoulaye Wade.

France was represented by Senate President Gerard Larcher.

On Monday night, a big sound and light show brought thousands of people to the beach of the central African capital. Tuesday night is to be marked by an "inter-generational" concert featuring more than 50 artists around the Omar Bongo stadium. Organisers expect tens of thousands of people to attend.

© 2010 AFP

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