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Govt 2 Sept dismissed claims that President Bongo, who suffered stroke in Oct 2018, had been hospitalised in London during visit there. After govt 22 Aug suspended magistrate who initiated hearing on whether doctors should assess Bongo’s fitness to rule, Court of Appeal 2 Sept refused to hear case.
President Bongo 23 March reportedly returned to Gabon following five-month stay in Morocco to recuperate after stroke late Oct. Opposition and civil society collective continued to call on authorities to recognise power vacuum and on people to peacefully take action if govt does not remedy situation. Collective 28 March initiated proceedings to mandate medical examination of Bongo; govt 29 March “invited” judicial authorities to take measures against people seeking to destabilise country.
Following 7 Jan failed coup attempt, President Bongo continued recuperating in Morocco from late Oct stroke; recovery reportedly expected to last six more months. Bongo 25 Feb briefly returned to Gabon for second time since Oct to chair cabinet meeting, but made no public appearances. Authorities 5 Feb released anti-govt activist Hervé Kinga, arrested in govt crackdown on opposition 31 Aug 2017, after judge dismissed charges of “propaganda aimed at disturbing public order” and “insulting president”.
Small group of soldiers 7 Jan took over state radio station and broadcast statement saying they were seizing power “to restore democracy” and calling on people to “rise up” while President Bongo was still recuperating in Morocco following stroke late Oct. Govt a few hours later said situation was “under control”, said two coup plotters had been killed and eight others arrested. Bongo 12 Jan named new PM as part of regular govt renewal following Oct legislative elections, 15 Jan returned from Morocco and swore in new govt largely identical to previous one, and same day returned to Morocco to continue recovery.
With President Bongo still recuperating in Morocco following stroke late Oct, hundreds of opposition supporters 12 Dec marched in capital Libreville after political rally for opposition leader and former presidential candidate Jean Ping, who called for “confrontation” with govt; police dispersed protesters and arrested several. Opposition leaders 22 Dec requested medical commission to determine state of health of President Bongo and 31 Dec asked for two-year transition period with transitional president and govt. Constitutional Court 28 Dec confirmed results of Oct legislative elections; ruling party won majority, new govt to be formed in coming weeks.
President Bongo 24 Oct reportedly suffered stroke and was hospitalised in Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh, where he was attending conference; 29 Nov travelled from Riyadh to Moroccan capital, Rabat to continue recovery. In response to call by VP Moussavou, constitutional court 14 Nov ruled head of state was “temporarily unavailable” and amended constitution to give VP and PM power to carry out certain presidential functions; VP to chair cabinet. Opposition condemned move as attempt to consolidate power in hands of Bongo clan and African Union 17 Nov urged govt to respect constitutional order.
Following dissolution of National Assembly in April, President Bongo 3 May allowed PM Issoze-Ngondet to be sworn in as temporary PM to form interim govt. Issoze-Ngondet 4 May announced temporary cabinet.
Constitutional Court 30 April ordered PM Issoze-Ngondet to resign and National Assembly to be dissolved on grounds that both no longer legitimate as govt failed to hold legislative elections before month’s end. PM and National Assembly president accepted ruling same day.
Constitutional Court confirmed President Bongo’s re-election in 27 Aug vote, but opposition rejected results. In clashes between opposition supporters and security forces 31 Aug-1 Sept after Bongo’s victory announced, opposition said 50-100 protestors died, govt said seven; security forces arrested 1,100. Opposition candidate Jean Ping 2 Sept repeated that he had won and called for recount and French military intervention, 8 Sept asked Constitutional Court to contest results. Govt 20 Sept refused AU’s proposed mission to observe process. Constitutional Court night of 23-24 Sept said Bongo had beaten Ping with 50.66% of vote to 47.24%; Ping called ruling “unjust”, Bongo warned Ping he could be arrested and called for political dialogue; EU questioned legitimacy of results. Bongo sworn in 27 Sept. French FM 29 Sept doubted legitimacy of electoral process, called on Bongo and AU to promote reconciliation. ICC 29 Sept said it would open preliminary probe into situation before deciding on formal investigation.
Violent protests broke out after opposition candidate Jean Ping rejected President Bongo’s victory in 27 Aug presidential election, announced 31 Aug. Both candidates 28 Aug claimed victory and accused each other of fraud; govt same day said process “satisfactory” despite irregularities. Govt 31 Aug announced Bongo won with 49.80% of votes, with Ping garnering 48.23%; opposition rejected results and called for recount in Haut-Ogooué province, Bongo stronghold where turnout was reportedly 99.93%. Ping supporters protested 31 Aug-1 Sept in Libreville and second city Port-Gentil, clashed with security forces, set fire to buildings including parliament building in Libreville; security forces dispersed protests with live rounds and tear gas; same night helicopters and presidential guard on ground attacked opposition HQ, reportedly killing two and injuring nineteen. Ping called for international assistance to protect population. UNSG Ban expressed “deep concern” about violence.
Violent govt crackdown on protesters demanding President Odimba’s resignation; protesters 20 Dec clashed with security forces in capital Libreville, officials say one killed, protesters report three. Opposition leaders 24 Dec detained by police over organisation of 20 Dec protests.
Hundreds took to streets 27 Jan in anti-govt protests, dozens injured during clashes with police. Demonstrators supporting opposition leader Andre Mba Obame, losing candidate in 2009 presidential election that opposition claimed was rigged, who declared himself president on 25 Jan. AU criticised Obame; ruling party cited “attention seeking ploy” ahead of 2011 legislative elections.
Following late Sept review of disputed Aug presidential polls, Constitutional Court 12 Oct confirmed constitutionality of Ali Ben Bongo’s victory; opposition coalition rejected verdict. Bongo sworn in 16 Oct, appointed govt 17 Oct.
Ali Ben Bongo, son of long-standing ruler Omar, declared President by interior minister 3 Sept after Aug elections, gaining 41% of the vote; opponents Andre Mba Obame and Pierre Mamboundou gained just under 25% each. Election approved by constitutional court. Libreville and Port Gentil erupted in 2 days of protests from 2 Sept, including widespread looting and arson targeting French sites over French association with Bongo dynasty; 300 arrested, several killed before troops restored order 4 Sept. 16 opposition candidates 17 Sept issued statement alleging “grave irregularities and fraud”, calling for recount, urging constitutional court to review verdict. Constitutional Court began recount 30 Sept; opposition announced boycott after their request to oversee recount denied.
Presidential poll to elect successor to longstanding leader Omar Bongo held 30 Aug. Vote peaceful, but outcome uncertain end month as 3 candidates – Omar’s son Ali Ben Bongo (PDG party), opposition UPG leader Pierre Mamboundou and ex-minister Andre Mba Obame (independent) – all claimed victory; official results expected 2-3 Sept. Tensions over Bongo’s candidacy high prior to poll: up to 6,000 rallied in capital 7 Aug in calls for Bongo to stand aside and quit post as defence minister to level electoral playing field; interim president Rogombe 14 Aug forced his resignation. Opposition candidates accused Bongo of seeking to impose family dynasty and called for election to be postponed, citing shortness of campaign period and irregularities in voters rolls. 5 candidates late month pulled out of race to back leading rival to Bongo, Andre Mba Obame. Bongo late month lashed out at opposition “traitors”.
Ruling PDG party 15 July selected Ali Ben Bongo, son of late president Omar Bongo, as its candidate in upcoming elections. Constitutional court early month approved extension to required 45-day election period, bringing deadline to 6 Sept. Sectors of ruling party, opposition and rights groups condemned Bongo family’s political dominance. 5 ministers, including 2 PDG ministers and PM Ndong, stood down after announcing intention to run as independents.
Following 8 June death of President Omar Bongo, in power since 1967, civil society groups demanded no current or former govt member stand in new presidential elections; reflects fears Bongo’s son, Defence Minister Ali-Ben Bongo, planning to take over. In accordance with constitution, Senate leader Rose Francine Rogombe confirmed by Constitutional Court as new interim leader 9 June, sworn in 10 June; constitution requires elections within 45 days, but date unclear amid concerns over planning, logistics.
Main opposition leader, Pierre Mamboundou, in hiding after government forces raided his party’s headquarters.
Violent demonstrations by opposition supporters protesting “rigged” 27 November presidential election led to government ban on demonstrations and “shoot without warning” policy. Opposition claimed 5 protestors killed and challenged official results which gave President Omar Bongo 79.2% of vote and third term in office.
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