UPDATE 1-Tunisia, Ivory Coast fire up opposition in Gabon

Wed Jan 26, 2011 1:52pm GMT

* Opposition's Mba Obame says inspired by I.Coast, Tunisia

* Government hits back with disbanding order

(Recasts with new details throughout)

By Phal Gualbert Mezui Ndong

LIBREVILLE, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Gabon disbanded the main opposition party on Wednesday after one of its leaders declared himself president, claiming inspiration from power struggles in Tunisia and Ivory Coast.

The row marks a step up in tensions in the usually sleepy central African country since Ali Bongo Odimba took over from his father Omar in 2009 after a disputed vote, and shows the scope for political protest to cross borders in Africa.

"Let us assume our responsibilities," Andre Mba Obame, who has always contested his defeat in a August 2009 poll, told thousands of supporters at a swearing-in ceremony staged at the headquarters of the National Union (UN) party in Libreville.

"We are no less brave than the Ivorians... We are no less brave than the Tunisians. History is on the march, let's go!," declared the former minister, naming key posts in what he called Gabon's legitimate government.

Ivory Coast incumbent Laurent Gbagbo has refused to step down despite U.N.-certified results showing a Nov. 28 poll was won by Alassane Ouattara. Outtara has declared himself president and runs a parallel government out of a U.N.-guarded hotel.   Continued...

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