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Gabon: Report slams record of Ali Bongo's second term

Gabon's President Ali Bongo Ondimba arrives at celebrations marking the 75th anniversary of UNESCO, at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, Friday Nov. 12, 2021.   -  
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Julien de Rosa/AP


A report titled "105 promises, 13 achievements" takes a closer look at the second 7-year term of Gabonese president Ali Bongo.

Economists Mays Mouissi et Harold Leckat assess in a 196-page-long document the efficiency of the Bongo administration. And the results do not live up to promises.

In a country of less than 2.5 millions inhabitants, with gas, mineral and oil deposits, the unemployment rate rose.

"Generally speaking, most of the infrastructure projects promised by the President have not been carried out," Mays Mouissi notes.

"I'm speaking about the road projects, the 5 hydroelectric dams, schools, the digital knowledge city he promised, the 700 nurseries and so on..."

"If we want to look at it from a macro-economic perspective, the unemployment rate has risen from 28% to 32%; as for poverty, a third, 35% of Gabonese people live below the poverty line, that is to say on less than two dollars a day, and access to basic social services has totally disintegrated."

The report also notes that 30% of civil servant positions have been allocated to women, bills passed to improve port activity, including the construction of a commercial port and an ore port in Owendo, as well as the preservation of territorial waters. 

But much still needs to be done. Mays Mouissi says the health condition of the president shouldn't be used as an excuse. Ali Bongo suffered a stroke in 2018.

"I think we have to be clear, we mustn't hide behind the President's stroke to justify this failure, because the reality is that, had the President felt unable to govern after his stroke, he would have resigned; if he remained in charge, it was because he felt able to govern," Mouissy considers.

"We've taken into account the fact that there was Covid, and we talk about that in the report. But let us be serious, in many African countries, we can follow the progress of major project, to name only one country, I can mention a well known example, that of Côte d'Ivoire. It shows that we are faced with a problem of governance, leadership, and governmental stability in the management of these projects.

The report's authors hope their initiative will raise public awareness ahead of the August 26 presidential polls. 

President Ali Bongo and his fiercest rival Jean Ping are expected to go again head-to-head.

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