On Tuesday (20 December), the presidents of the Congo People's Republic and Cameroon arrived in Gabon for the annual meeting of the Customs and Economic Union of Central Africa, better known by the initials of its French name, UDEAC (Union Douaniere et Economique de l'Afrique Centrale).
GV: Aircraft arrives at Libreville airport.
SV: President Omar Bongo of Gabon (white suit) with ministers.
CU PAN: Congolese President Joachim Yhombi-Opango and wife leave aircraft and greeted by President Bongo and ministers.
SV PAN: Two Presidents walk away past guard of honour.
GV: Cameroon aircraft arrives.
SV: Presidents Bongo and Yhombi-Opango walk forward.
SV: Cameroon President Ahmadou Ahidjo leaves aircraft and greeted by President Bongo.
SV PAN: President Bongo and Ahidjo walk away past guard of honour.
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Background: On Tuesday (20 December), the presidents of the Congo People's Republic and Cameroon arrived in Gabon for the annual meeting of the Customs and Economic Union of Central Africa, better known by the initials of its French name, UDEAC (Union Douaniere et Economique de l'Afrique Centrale). Also attending the meeting were the President of Gabon, Omar Bongo, and the newly crowned Emperor Bokassa of the Central African Empire, who had arrived the day before.
SYNOPSIS: Gabon's capital of Libreville was chosen for this year's talks because President Bongo is currently the chairman of the union.
Arriving first was the President of the Congo People's Republic, Joachim Yhombi-Opango, who was greeted at the airport by his Gabonese counterpart. This was the 13th time the heads of state of the various countries comprising the union had got together. Usually they meet at least once a year to determine the general policy of the union, which aims at closer regional co-operation.
In particular the Presidents are concerned with ensuring that trade between their countries is free and that their citizens have freedom of movement across their joint borders. The Presidents also oversee investments in joint economic projects.
Next top arrive at Libreville airport was a Boeing aircraft owned by Cameroon Airlines and carrying the country's President, Ahmadou Ahidjo.
President Ahidjo, who will chair next year's conference in the Cameroon capital of Yaounde, was welcomed by President Bongo before the two left for the official talks. The talks were to last two days and one of the main results was a re-affirmation of the importance of the Congo river to all countries of the region. The re-affirmation followed a recent dispute between the landlocked Central African Empire and the Congo over the handling of river traffic. The Congo river is the Empire's economic lifeline.