The 1964 Gabon coup d'état was staged between 17 and 18 February 1964 by Gabonese military officers who rose against Gabonese President Léon M'ba. Before the coup, Gabon was seen as one of the most politically stable countries in Africa. The coup resulted from M'ba's dissolution of the Gabonese legislature on 21 January 1964, and during a takeover with few casualties 150 coup plotters arrested M'ba and a number of his government officials. Through Radio Libreville, they asked the people of Gabon to remain calm and assured them that the country's pro-France foreign policy would remain unchanged. A provisional government was formed, and the coup's leaders installed Deputy Jean-Hilaire Aubame, who was M'ba's primary political opponent and had been uninvolved in the coup, as president. Meanwhile, M'ba was sent to Lambaréné, 250 kilometres (155 mi) from Libreville. There was no major uprising or reaction by the Gabonese people when they received word of the coup, which the military interpreted as a sign of approval.
After being informed of the coup by Gabonese Chief of Staff Albert-Bernard Bongo, French President Charles de Gaulle resolved to restore the M'ba government, honoring a 1960 treaty signed between the deposed government and France when Gabon became independent. With the help of French paratroopers, the provisional government was toppled during the night of 19 February and M'ba was reinstated as president. Afterward, M'ba imprisoned more than 150 of his opponents, pledging "no pardon or pity" but rather "total punishment". Aubame was sentenced to 10 years of hard labor and 10 years of exile, a sentence that was later commuted. (Read more...)
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A presidential election was held in Gabon on 30 August 2009 after the incumbent President Omar Bongo Ondimba died on 8 June 2009. While the constitution stated that Interim President Rose Francine Rogombé should organise elections within 30 to 45 days, the Constitutional Court accepted the government's request for a delay due to the circumstances.
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...)
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Minkébé National Park is a national park in the extreme northeast of Gabon. It covers an area of 7,570 km². The WWF recognized it as an area needing protection as early as 1989 and has been actively working towards protecting the forest since 1997. The park was established as a provisional reserve in 2000 but the Minkébé National Park itself was officially recognized and established by the Gabonese government in August 2002. It is recognized as a critical site for conservation by the IUCN and has been proposed as a World Heritage Site.
The Fang people once inhabited the Minkébé area but on becoming a protected area the park now has no permanent human population. The name Minkébé derives from the Fang word 'Minkegbe', which means 'valleys' or 'ditches'. Historically, the park was under former French army control in the 1920s.
In 1997, the WWF initiated a management program and established two main centres of forest command, one at Oyem, the other at Makokou. A central camp was also installed at the mouth of the river Nouna to manage the protected area. Since 1997, the park has received funds from DGIS (Netherlands Development Cooperation) and CARPE (USAID), and the WWF has worked with other groups to build up ways in which to manage and protect the biodiversity in the park. The park has received donors from the European Union, CARPE, UNESCO and the French Global Environment Facility (FFEM). (Read more...)
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