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The Gabon Portal

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Gabon (/ɡəˈbɒn/; French pronunciation: ​[ɡabɔ̃]) is a country in west central Africa sharing borders with the Gulf of Guinea to the west, Equatorial Guinea to the northwest, and Cameroon to the north, with the Republic of the Congo curving around the east and south. Its size is almost 270,000 km² with an estimated population of 1,500,000. The capital and largest city is Libreville.

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 democratic constitution 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.

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Mountains in Gabon


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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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Credit: A. Cottes

A group of Beti-Pahuin men in Gabon.

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El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba (30 December 1935 – 8 June 2009), born as Albert-Bernard Bongo, was a Gabonese politician who was President of Gabon for 42 years from 1967 until his death in office in 2009.

Omar Bongo was promoted to key positions as a young official under Gabon's first President Leon M'ba in the 1960s, before being elevated to Vice-President from 1966 to 1967, eventually succeeding M'ba to become Gabon's second President upon the latter's death in 1967.

Bongo headed the single-party regime of the Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG) until 1990, when he was forced to introduce multi-party politics in Gabon in the face of great public pressure. He then survived intense opposition to his rule in the early 1990s, succeeding in consolidating power again mainly by bringing most of the major opposition leaders of the 1990s over to his side. He was re-elected in extremely controversial 1993 presidential election, and again in the subsequent elections of 1998 and 2005, with his respective majorities increasing and the opposition becoming more subdued on each election. After Cuban President Fidel Castro stepped down in February 2008, Bongo became the world's longest-serving non-monarch ruler.

(Read more...)

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