Gabon President aims for third term – Capital Radio Malawi
21 July, 2024

Gabon President aims for third term

Polls have opened in the oil-rich central African nation of Gabon where President Ali Bongo – who came to power when his father Omar died in 2009 – is hoping to win a third term.

He faces competition from 13 people.

“Gabon is not the property of the Bongos,” says rival candidate Albert Ondo Ossa, who hopes he can lead the Alternance 2023 coalition to victory despite only being appointed last week.

As in previous general elections, there are serious concerns about the process.

Both of Bongo’s prior wins were disputed as fraudulent by opponents, and this time around controversial changes have been made to the ballot papers just weeks before election day.

For the first time, voters are being asked to mark a single ballot with their choice of president and MP.

Critics fear this will disadvantage independent candidates – including Ondo Ossa, who heads the opposition Alternance 2023 alliance but lacks a party of his own.

Foreign media have been banned from setting foot in the country to cover Saturday’s vote, says the campaign group Reporters Without Borders.

Both the US and the European Union have stressed the need for free and fair elections, and say they are watching the process closely.

As well as voting for their choice of president and MPs, the people of Gabon are also choosing mayors and local councillors.

Gabon has a total population of 2.3 million people and enjoys oil wealth and rich swathes of rainforest.

But the global economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has led to declining exports of raw materials.

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