26. Gabon (1960-present)

 

Pre-Crisis Phase (August 17, 1960-February 16, 1964):  Gabon formally achieved its independence from France on August 17, 1960, with Léon M’ba as prime minister and Paul Marie Gondjout as president of the National Assembly.  After Paul Gondjout filed a motion of censure in the National Assembly against the prime minister, Prime Minister Léon M’ba declared a state of emergency on November 16, 1960.  Paul Marie Gondjout and several cabinet ministers were arrested and sentenced to prison terms.  Legislative elections were held on February 12, 1961, and the Gabonese Democratic Bloc (Bloc Démocratique Gabonais-BDG) and Gabonese Democratic and Social Union (Union Démocratique et Sociale Gabonaise-UDSG) coalition won 67 out of 67 seats in the National Assembly.  Leon M’ba of the Gabonese Democratic Bloc (BDG) was elected president with 100 percent of the vote on February 12, 1961.  A new constitution was adopted by the National Assembly on February 21, 1961.  On February 9, 1963, President Léon M’ba pardoned those jailed during the 1960 crisis.  Due to political opposition in the parliament, President Léon M’ba dissolved the National Assembly on January 21, 1964.

Crisis Phase (February 17, 1964-September 9, 1964):  President Léon M’ba was forced to resign during a military coup led by Lt. Jacques Mombo and Valére Essone on February 17-18, 1964.  Jean-Hilaire Aubame, leader of the opposition Gabonese Democratic and Social Union (UDSG), was appointed as president of a provisional government that included the former president of the National Assembly, Paul Marie Gondjout.  The vice-president of Gabon requested French military intervention on February 18, 1964, and French troops were deployed in Gabon from Congo-Brazzavile (People’s Republic of the Congo) and Senegal on February 18, 1964. President Léon M’ba was restored to power on February 20, 1964.  At least 18 Gabonese soldiers and one French soldier were killed during the rebellion. Jean-Hilaire Aubame and Paul Gondjout fled from Libreville, but were captured by government soldiers on February 20, 1964.  Gabonese demonstrated against the government of President M’ba in Libreville on March 1-3, 1964.  As a result of rumors that the U.S. government was involved in the military coup, the U.S. embassy in Libreville was attacked on March 3 and March 5, 1964.  Legislative elections were held on April 12, 1964, and the Gabonese Democratic Bloc (Bloc Democratique Gabonais-BDG) won 31 out of 47 seats in the National Assembly.  The Gabonese Democratic and Social Union (Union Démocratique et Sociale Gabonaise-UDSG) won 16 seats in the National Assembly.  During a trial of those arrested for involvement in the military coup, Judge Leon Auge acquitted Paul Marie Gondjout and sentenced Jean-Hilaire Aubame to a 10-year prison term on September 9, 1964.

Post-Crisis Phase (September 10, 1964-May 22, 1990):  President Léon M’ba named Albert-Bernard (Omar) Bongo as vice-president on November 11, 1966.  President Léon M’ba was re-elected on March 19, 1967. President Léon M’ba died on November 28, 1967. Vice President Albert-Bernard (Omar) Bongo became president on December 2, 1967. President Omar Bongo declared Gabon a one-party state in March 1968.  Legislative elections were held on February 16, 1969, and the Gabonese Democratic Party (Parti Democratique Gabonais – PDG) won 49 out of 49 seats in the National Assembly. President Omar Bongo was re-elected without opposition on February 25, 1973. Legislative elections were held on February 25, 1973, and the Gabonese Democratic Party (Parti Democratique Gabonais – PDG) won 100 out of 100 seats in the National Assembly.  President Omar Bongo was re-elected without opposition on December 30, 1979.  Legislative elections were held on February 25, 1980, and the PDG won 84 out of 84 contested seats in the National Assembly.  University students began anti-government protests in Libreville on December 5, 1981, and President Omar Bongo closed the university in Libreville from December 14, 1981 to January 11, 1982. Some 29 individuals were arrested and sentenced to prison for anti-government activities on November 26, 1982. On March 11, 1983, President Omar Bongo reduced the prison terms of the convicted individuals after Amnesty International (AI) appealed for their release from prison.  Legislative elections were held on February 17 and March 3, 1985, and the Gabonese Democratic Party (Parti Democratique Gabonais – PDG) won 111 out of 111 elective seats in the National Assembly.  Captain Alexandre Mandja Ngokouta, who was convicted by a military court of plotting to assassinate the president, was executed on August 11, 1985.  President Omar Bongo was re-elected with 99 percent of the vote on November 9, 1986.  The Gabonese Progress Party (Parti Gabonais du Progrès-PGP) was established in March 1990.  President Omar Bongo legalized opposition political parties on April 21, 1990, and appointed Casimir Marie Ange Oyé-Mba as prime minister on April 27, 1990.  The National Assembly approved a constitutional reform program providing for a multiparty system on May 22, 1990.

Crisis Phase (May 23, 1990-November 26, 1990):  Anti-government riots broke out in Port Gentil and Libreville after the death of Joseph Rendjambe, secretary-general of the PGP, on May 23, 1990.  In Operation Requin (“Shark”), France deployed some 300 soldiers (in additional to 500 soldiers already based in Gabon) to protect French nationals in Gabon on May 25, 1990.  Order was restored in Port Gentil on May 29, 1990.  Augustin Boumah, president of the National Assembly, announced his resignation on June 1, 1990.  The same day, the French government said that it would withdraw its soldiers from Gabon.  Some five individuals were killed in the violence in Port Gentil .  Legislative elections were held between September 16 and October 28, 1990, and the PDG won 63 out of 120 seats in the National Assembly.  The National Rally of Woodcutters (Rassemblement National des Bucherons – RNB) won 20 seats in the National Assembly.  Prime MInister Casimir Marie Ange Oyé-Mba formed a government of “national union” on November 26, 1990.

Post-Crisis Phase (November 27, 1990-December 8, 1993):  Opposition political leaders announced a boycott of the parliament, and called for a dissolution of the government in May 1991. President Omar Bongo dismissed Casimir Marie Ange Oyé-Mba on June 7, 1991, and proposed a government of national unity.  Opposition parties rejected an offer to join the government on June 15, 1991, and President Omar Bongo re-appointed Casimir Marie Ange Oyé-Mba as prime minister.  President Omar Bongo was re-elected with 51 percent of the vote on December 5, 1993. The International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) sent observers to monitor the president elections. The United Nations (UN) secretariat provided electoral assistance between November and December 1993.

Crisis Phase (December 9, 1993-July 23, 1995):  President Omar Bongo declared a state-of-emergency on December 9, 1993. Three individuals were killed in political violence in Libreville on December 10, 1993.  Paul Mba-Abessolé of the National Rally of Woodcutters (Rassemblement National des Bucherons – RNB) challenged the results of the presidential election, and established the High Council of the Republic as a rival government on December 12, 1993. Government troops and demonstrators clashed in Libreville on February 22-25, 1994, resulting in the deaths of nine individuals. Prime Minister Casimir Marie Ange Oyé-Mba resigned on March 11, 1994, but he was re-appointed by President Omar Bongo on March 13, 1994.  President Omar Bongo lifted the state-of-emergency on April 8, 1994. Representatives from Canada, France, and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) facilitated negotiations between government and opposition leaders in Paris beginning on September 7, 1994, and the parties reach an agreement on the Paris Accords on September 27, 1994.  Paul Mba-Abessolé and President Omar Bongo formally signed the Paris Accords in Libreville on October 7, 1994.  Prime Minister Casimir Marie Ange Oyé-Mba resigned on October 11, 1994, and President Omar Bongo appointed Paulin Obame-Nguema as interim prime minister on October 13, 1994.  Opposition political parties ended their boycott of the National Assembly on February 6, 1995.  Constitutional reforms proposed in the Paris Accords were approved by 97 percent of voters in a referendum held on July 23, 1995.  Twelve individuals were killed during the crisis.

Post-Crisis Phase (July 24, 1995-September 2, 2009):  Legislative elections were held between December 15, 1996 and January 12, 1997, and the PDG won 85 out of 120 seats in the National Assembly. The Gabonese Progress Party (Parti Gabonais du Progrès-PGP) won 10 seats in the National Assembly.  President Omar Bongo re-appointed Paulin Obame-Nguema as prime minister on January 27, 1997. The National Assembly approved constitutional amendments on April 18, 1997. The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) sent a five-member electoral assessment mission to the country on October 8-25, 1998.  President Omar Bongo was re-elected with some 67 percent of the vote on December 6, 1998. The Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) sent nine observers from seven countries headed by Mohamed El Hacen Ould Lebatt of Mauritania to monitor the presidential election from November 30 to December 10, 1998. The Foundation for Democracy in Africa (FDA) sent seven observers to monitor the presidential election beginning on December 4, 1998, and the FDA issued a report on the presidential election on February 5, 1999. Opposition candidate, Pierre Mamboundou of the Union of the Gabonese People (Union du Peuple du Gabon – UPG), came in second place with 17 percent of the vote. Opposition political parties accused the government of election fraud. Prime Minister Paulin Obame-Nguema resigned on January 22, 1999, and President Omar Bongo appointed Jean Francois Ntoutoume-Emane as prime minister on January 24, 1999.  Legislative elections were held on December 9, 2001, and the Gabonese Democratic Party (Parti Democratique Gabonais – PDG) won 88 out of 120 seats in the National Assembly. The National Rally of Woodcutters (Rassemblement National des Bucherons – RNB) won eight seats in the National Assembly.  Several opposition political parties boycotted the legislative elections. The OIF and OAU sent observers to monitor the legislative elections.  President Omar Bongo was re-elected with 79 percent of the vote on November 27, 2005, and he was inaugurated as president on January 19, 2006.  Opposition political parties claimed election fraud.  The OIF sent observers to monitor the presidential election.  President Omar Bongo appointed Jean Éyéghé as prime minister on January 20, 2006.  Legislative elections were held on December 17, 2006, and the PDG won 82 out of 120 seats in the National Assembly.  The UPG won eight seats in the National Assembly.  The Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) sent observers to monitor the legislative elections.  President Omar Bongo died on 8 June 2009.  The Constitutional Court appointed Rose Francine Rogombé, president of the Senate, as interim president on June 9, 2009, and she was sworn in as president on June 10, 2009.  Violent demonstrations occurred in Libreville on August 7, 2009.  Defense Minister Ali Bongo Odimba, son of former President Omar Bongo, of the Gabonese Democratic Party (Parti Democratique Gabonais – PDG) was elected president with 42 percent of the vote on August 30, 2009.  The African Union (AU) sent 35 short-term observers to monitor the presidential election.

Crisis Phase (September 3, 2009-present):  Following an announcement of presidential election results on September 3, 2009, government security forces clashed with protesters in in Libreville, Nkembo, and Port Gentil.  The government claimed that three individuals were killed in Port Gentil, although the opposition alleged that 60 individuals were killed in Port Gentil.  The Constitutional Court confirmed the results of the presidential election on September 4, 2009,  but ordered a recount beginning on September 29, 2009.  Presidential candidates, André Mba Obame (independent candidate, who came in second place with 26 percent of the vote) and Pierre Mamboundou of the Union of the Gabonese People (Union du Peuple Gabonais-UPG) claimed election fraud.  On October 12, 2009, the Constitutional Court confirmed that Ali Bongo Ondimba won the presidential election.  Ali Bongo Odimba was inaugurated as president on October 16, 2009.  President Ali Bongo appointed Biyoghé Mba as prime minister on October 16, 2009.  André Mba Obame, leader of the National Union and runner-up in the 2009 presidential election, declared himself president of Gabon on January 25, 2011.  André Mba Obame and 30 supporters took refuge in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) compound in Libreville on January 27, 2011.  Supporters of André Mba Obame demonstrated against the government of President Ali Bongo in Libreville on January 27-29, 2011.  On the same day, supporters of President Ali Bongo Odimba attacked the UNDP compound, resulting in the death of one individual.  Riots occurred in Libreville on February 2, 2011, and students protested at Omar Bongo University in Libreville on February 10, 2011.  The UN facilitated the departure of André Mba Obame and his supporters from the UNDP compound in Libreville on February 27, 2011.  Pierre Mamboundou, leader of the Union of the Gabonese People (Union du Peuple Gabonais-UPG), died on October 15, 2011.  Legislative elections were held on December 17, 2011, and the Gabonese Democratic Party (Parti Democratique Gabonais – PDG) won 115 out of 121 seats in the National Assembly.  Most opposition political parties boycotted the legislative elections.  André Mba Obame returned to Libreville from self-exile in France on August 11, 2012.  Government police clashed with supporters of André Mba Obame demonstrating in Libreville on August 15, 2012, resulting in the injuring of ten individuals.  On September 13, 2012, some 33 individuals were sentenced to one year in prison for their involvement in the August 15th demonstrations.

[Sources: Africa Research Bulletin (ARB), December 1-31, 1979, December 15, 1986; Agence France Presse (AFP), August 11, 2012, August 15, 2012; Associated Press (AP), June 1, 1990; Banks and Muller, 1998, 333-338; Bercovitch and Jackson, 1997, 119; British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), December 6, 1998, November 28, 2005, November 30, 2005, January 19, 2006, March 21, 2006, December 22, 2006, February 26, 2009, June 8, 2009, June 9, 2009, June 10, 2009, August 30, 2009, August 31, 2009, September 3, 2009, September 4, 2009, September 5, 2009, October 12, 2009, January 27, 2011, December 22, 2011; Degenhardt, 1988, 121; Dupoy and Dupoy, 1977, 1324; Facts on File, February 13-19, 1964, March 5-11, 1964, April 9-15, 1964; Foundation for Democracy in Africa (FDA) report, February 5, 1999; Jessup, 1998, 223-224; Keesing’s Record of World Events, April 18-25, 1964, May 30, 1980, November 1990, December 1993, February 1994, September 1994, October 1994, January 1997, December 1998, January 1999; Langer, 1972, 1269; New York Times (NYT), August 4, 1985, May 25, 1990, September 4, 2009; Panafrican News Agency (PANA), December 6, 1998, January 24, 1999; Reuters, September 3, 2009, January 27, 2011, January 28, 2011, March 5, 2011, December 22, 2011; Schwarz, 1970, 118-119; Tillema, 1991, 77; Weisburd, 1997, 219.]