* PM protests at party's choice of former president's son
* Former interior minister also says he will run
(Adds appointment of new prime minister, paragraph 12)
By Linel Kwatsi
LIBREVILLE, July 17 Gabonese Prime Minister Jean
Eyeghe Ndong said on Friday he had resigned in protest at his
party's choice of the son of deceased president Omar Bongo as
presidential candidate and would stand against him in the poll.
The ruling Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG) on Wednesday
named Defence Minister Ali Ben Bongo as its official candidate
in the presidential election in the oil-producing West African
country. The vote must be held before Sept. 6.
Ndong, who will run as an independent, said his argument was
not with Bongo standing, but with the manner in which he was
selected by the PDG.
"I am offering my candidacy outside the PDG simply because
procedure was not respected," he told a news conference.
"From my position as prime minister, I have witnessed since
the death of President Omar Bongo that senior figures in the PDG
have begun a course of dividing the party and destabilising the
state," he said.
Ali Ben Bongo was chosen by consensus, PDG deputy general
secretary Angel Ondo said on Wednesday.
Opposition figures have expressed concern the election will
be neither free nor fair, and will guarantee the succession of
Ali Ben Bongo to the position his father held for more than four
decades, during which he became one of Africa's richest men.
Separately on Friday, former interior minister Andre Mba
Obame told France 24 television he would stand in the poll.
Obame said the result was not a foregone conclusion, and
said the elections would take place on Aug. 30.
"I am a candidate because I think I have a political offer
to make to the people of Gabon," he said.
An interim government took power on June 10, days after
Bongo, Africa's longest-serving leader, died aged 73.
Rose Francine Rogombe, head of the interim government,
appointed Paul Biyoghe Mba, formely minister of agriculture, as
prime minister later on Friday.
The former French colony's constitutional court last week
approved an extension to the 45-day period for which the interim
government is constitutionally allowed to rule.
French energy company Total is one of the biggest investors
in Gabon, which produces about 273,000 barrels of oil per day.
(Additional reporting by Tamora Vidaillet in Paris; writing by
Daniel Magnowski; editing by Tim Pearce)