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Gabon President Bongo seeks third win amidst elections

President Bongo of Gabon hopes for a third consecutive win in the elections to extend his family’s 56-year-old dynasty

Gabon, a country in central Africa, is holding its presidential, legislative, and state elections this week. President Ali Bongo Ondimba is the incumbent president. The opposition wishes for a landslide victory to end President Bongo’s grip on power. 

(Image Source: EURACTIV)

Voting begins today, Saturday, August 26, 2023, at 0700 GMT. There are 19 candidates in the presidential elections. However, six of the opposition parties have backed a joint nominee. It is an effort to increase the chances of removing Bongo from power. 

These elections are a test of support for Bongo. There are criticisms that Bongo has not done a lot for the nation. He seems to have allocated only a third of the country’s oil wealth to the 2.3 million poor people.

There are also rumors regarding Bongo’s health and ability to run the country following a stroke in 2018. President Bongo, age 64, has set out to disprove these rumors. In his campaign, he has promised to create more jobs, reduce public school fees, and boost microloan programs. 

Although the elections have been running smoothly to date, there are safety concerns for the post-election period. After the victory in 2016, protests took over the country. Previously, the opposition had claimed that Bongo had won the elections using fraudulent means. 

Remadji Hoinathy, a researcher at the Institute for Security Studies, states that the recent changes in the voting system could lead to more complications. The changes include using a single ballot to vote for a presidential candidate and a lawmaker from one party. 

He further states that the changes might put more pressure on the outcome of the elections. It will also harm any contending parties and lead to future violence. 

Will there be a change of power in Gabon?

President Bongo’s biggest competitor is Albert Ondo Ossa, a 69-year-old economics and management professor. Ossa’s campaign focuses on the need for change and better economic policies. This campaign resonates with the population, as 1 in 3 youngsters are unemployed. 

The voting polls will close at 1700 GMT. The vote count will begin soon thereafter. There is no fixed date for announcing the preliminary results.

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