Gabon president warns of election unrest

Libreville – Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba has warned of possible unrest during the August 27 election which he said was the "strategy" of the opposition challenging his eligibility to seek a second seven-year term.

"It is to be feared, because it is the opposition's strategy for many years," Bongo said in an interview with the weekly "Jeune Afrique" published on Sunday which asked him if he feared "abuses and even violence" after the vote.

The opposition "has started to heat things up by announcing that the election will not be transparent, that we will steal victory," the president said.

Bongo described as "nonsense" the arguments of critics who have opposed his re-election on the grounds that he was a Nigerian who was adopted in the 1960s by his father, long-ruling former president Ali Bongo, and was therefore ineligible as a foreigner under the constitution.

"If they come to this kind of argument – challenging my eligibility, my birth and other nonsense – this proves that they recognise that my record is good (...) They fear an honest campaign, programme against programme, and obviously prefer slander," he said.

Gabon's constitutional court last week rejected appeals lodged by three opponents against his candidacy.

The representative of the EU election observation mission on Thursday called on politicians to "do everything" to "avoid any violence or any form of provocation" with tensions high ahead of the presidential polls.

“Speed up, step on the gas”

As the elections approach, the security forces have had a greater presence in the capital Libreville, with road checkpoints at night.

Assessing his seven-year term, the president regretted "not having maintained the pace of reforms", particularly to diversify the economy of the oil-producing west African country.

"I was talking one day with President Obama on the difficulty of reform, the pitfalls ... He replied: "In that situation, the best advice I can give you is to speed up, step on the gas", this is what we will do."

Bongo was elected for a first term in a disputed 2009 vote following the death of his father Omar Bongo Ondimba, who had steered Gabon from 1967 and was described by critics as a corrupt despot.

This rule saw the country tap its new found oil wealth that led to a per capita income four times that of most sub-Saharan African nations.

However most of it has not trickled down to ordinary people. Critics accuse the Bongo family of usurping the country's riches and stifling democracy.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
President Ramaphosa has punted the idea of mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations for South Africans. This is:
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
The right thing to do. We desperately need more South Africans vaccinated to prevent further mutations and restore normality in our lives.
72% - 7661 votes
A risky strategy. Compulsory vaccinations may have unintended consequences and damage our rollout campaign.
28% - 2985 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
15.81
+1.5%
Rand - Pound
21.06
+1.1%
Rand - Euro
17.92
+1.3%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.24
+1.4%
Rand - Yen
0.14
+1.6%
Gold
1,767.94
-0.8%
Silver
22.39
+0.3%
Palladium
1,765.00
+1.1%
Platinum
941.00
+0.5%
Brent Crude
68.87
-0.5%
Top 40
64,555
-0.4%
All Share
71,021
-0.3%
Resource 10
67,557
-0.5%
Industrial 25
93,673
-0.4%
Financial 15
13,890
+0.1%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE