Gabon President Ali Bongo has confirmed his participation in this years’ upcoming presidential elections.
“Bongo Fils”, or Bongo’s son as he referred to, made the declaration in a visit to Port Gentil, the oil hub which is a traditional opposition stronghold, “…I announce my candidacy for this year’s presidential election,” he is quoted to have said.
Bongo came to power in 2009 through a disputed election after the death of his father Omar Bongo, with this move, he is seeking to extend the ruling Gabonese Democratic Party’s nearly 50-year rule over the oil-producing central African nation.
...I announce my candidacy for this year's presidential election
In the same speech that he announced his candidacy, Bongo stressed the need to combat a “system of privileges” in the country, where much of the oil wealth has historically become the preserve of a small elite.
He is known to have sought to diversify the gabonese economy and via reforms, move it from being reliant on oil and to increase public investment, even though falling commodity prices are militating against his transformation agenda.
There are no presidential term limits in Gabon and the one-round electoral system is seen as favouring Bongo, who is widely expected by most analysts to remain as president, though they also point to the risk of unrest due to high tension between supporters.
Veteran leaders across Africa have made moves of extending their stay in power mostly through consitutional changes as is the case in Congo Republic, Kagame’s Rwanda, Museveni’s Uganda and Nkurunziza’s Burundi, where serious fighting has erupted.
Few days ago, Gambian President Yahya Jammeh also confirmed his participation in upcoming polls for his fifth term in office.