Since its independence from France on August 17, 1960, the Republic has been ruled by three presidents. In the early 1990s, Gabon introduced a multi-party system and a new democraticconstitution that allowed for a more transparent electoral process and reformed many governmental institutions. The small population density together with abundant natural resources and foreign private investment have helped make Gabon one of the most prosperous countries in the region, with the highest HDI in Sub-Saharan Africa.
23 candidates were approved to contest the election, although six of them withdrew immediately before the election, reducing the field to 17 candidates. Despite the large number of candidates, three of them were considered the key contenders for the Presidency: Ali-Ben Bongo, the son of Omar Bongo, who was the candidate of the long-ruling Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG); Pierre Mamboundou, a radical opposition leader who was backed by a coalition of parties; and André Mba Obame, a former PDG member who ran as an independent and won the backing of several other candidates.
According to official results announced on 3 September 2009, Bongo won the election with a plurality of 41.7% of the vote, while Mba Obame and Mamboundou both trailed with about 25% each. Opposition supporters reacted violently to the results. (Read more...)
Jean-Hilaire Aubame (10 November 1912 – 16 August 1989) was a Gabonesepolitician active during both the colonial and independence periods. The French journalist Pierre Péan said that Aubame's training "as a practicing Catholic and a customs official helped to make him an integrated man, one of whom political power was not an end in itself."
Born into a Fang family, Aubame was orphaned at a young age. He was raised by the stepbrother of Léon M'ba, who became Aubame's chief political rival. Encouraged by his colleagues, Aubame entered politics, serving as Gabon's first representative in the National Assembly of France from 1946 to 1958. Aubame was also a leader in solving African problems, particularly developing the Gabonese standard of living and planning urban sites. Aubame's quick rise in Gabonese politics was spurred by the support of the missions and administration, whereas much of M'ba's strength came from the colonists.