Gabon, also known as the Gabonese Republic, is a country in Central Africa. It shares borders with Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, and the Republic of Congo. Gabon’s population is estimated to be 2.3 million people. The country is endowed with natural resources and, like Nigeria, is an oil producer and net exporter of crude oil.
Despite its abundant natural resources, the country’s economic performance is poor. The World Bank estimates Gabon’s GDP in 2022 to be around 3.1%
Gabon ranks higher than Nigeria in the Global Human Development Index. The index measures the three key dimensions of human development: living a long, healthy life, being knowledgeable, and having a decent standard of living. Gabon was ranked eighth in Africa in 2021, with Nigeria ranked 28th. Gabon is ranked 112nd in the world, while Nigeria is ranked 163rd.
Gabon gained independence from France on August 17, 1960, and has had three presidents since that time. In 1961, Léon Mba was elected president; his deputy was Omar Bongo Ondimba, the father of Ali Bongo, Gabon’s recently ousted president.
After Léon M’ba died in office in 1967, Omar Bongo Ondimba took over as president. He ruled for nearly 42 years before succumbing to a cardiac arrest in 2009. Ali Bongo, his son, succeeded him as president. Since its independence, the Bongo family has ruled the country for 55 of its 63 years.
From one party to pseudo multi party State?
Gabon had a multiparty system until 1967, when Omar Bongo Ondimba took over. He dissolved the Bloc Démocratique Gabonais (BDG), leaving only the Parti Democratique Gabonais (PDG) as the country’s political party. In 1991, Omar Bongo permitted a multiparty system, though his political party, the PDG, remained the major and dominant party.
Elections and a coup?
A coup is an illegal takeover of power from a government. It could occur within military ranks as well as in a democratic context, such as when the military seizes power from a democratically elected government. Gabon had experienced a number of coup attempts prior to 2023. There was an unsuccessful coup attempt in 2019; there were also two failed coup attempts in 1990.
The 2023 coup is said to have been triggered by the recent election, in which Ali Bongo was declared the winner for a third term in office. The absence of international observers, the shutdown of the internet, and the imposition of a curfew characterised the electoral process. The entire process was described as fraudulent by the opposition.
It is worth noting that Brice Clothaire Oligui Nguema, the commander-in-chief of the Gabonese Republican Guard – the country’s most powerful security unit – and Bongo’s cousin, is the ringleader of the latest coup.