Daily Archives: September 9, 2009

Gabon 2009

Gabon, an oil-rich African nation, held a ‘special’ presidential election on August 30 to elect the successor of long-time strongman (ruling for 42 years, the longest serving non-monarchical head of state) Omar Bongo, recently deceased. Bongo’s rule had been marked by the development of the oil market in Gabon, which made Gabon equal to Portugal in terms of GDP (although the oil wealth was distributed extremely unequally, making the Gabonese population quite poor in practice). Bongo was also extremely close to France and held important sway over the French government, and could practically dismiss, indirectly, any French cabinet minister he did not approve of.

Bongo’s party, the Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG), finally nominated Bongo’s own son and cabinet minister Ali Bongo. André Mba Obame, another Bongo cabinet minister, ran as an Independent while the strongest opposition candidate was Pierre Mamboundou, who also ran in 1999 and 2005 as the candidate of the opposition Union of the Gabonese People (UPG).

All major candidates claimed victory, and most claimed they had received a convincing mandate from the people. However, as was to be expected, I guess, in a way, the election became a traditional fake election and Bongo was proclaimed winner with 41.73%, far ahead of Obame (25.88%) and Mamboundou (25.22%). Only Zacharie Myboto, a former PDG member-turned-opposition-guy (3.94%) won more than 1% of the vote. Large protests and violent riots broke out in Port-Gentil, one of Gabon’s major industrial centre and an opposition stronghold. The mood of the riots were very anti-French (claiming that France had rigged the election, but there was also a lot of anger directed at the French oil interests, Total in particular). All candidates except for Bongo have united in a front denouncing the results as a fraud.

In terms of other fake elections, Hamid Karzai seems to have won the fake election held in Afghanistan the same day.