Conflicts in Gabon

Corruption and the lack of government accountability in Gabon are the driving forces for violent conflicts happening in Gabon. In spite of the myriad of ethnic group existing in Gabon, there are not many ethnic conflicts. Gabon is at peace with its surrounding countries as well and even participates in peacekeeping efforts in the area. Conflicts in Gabon are more prevalent in the after math of presidential elections. Since independence, Gabon has had three presidents. The current Gabonese President, Ali Bongo Odimba is the son of the last Gabonese president who had maintained power for 42 years prior to his death.

At the heart of each Gabonese elections, tensions in the country began to rise and talk of corruption and of rigged elections follow. Gabon was in the news a lot due to the violent protests that erupted after Ali Bongo Odimba was re-instated as president. Protestors took to the streets and demanded their freedom and liberation. Some even burnt government building. The United States and France became involved in the conflict and offered to oversee a recount of the vote because Bongo’s opponent, Jean Ping, and his followers claimed that he had rightfully won the election.

In September. Gabon was in the news spotlight because of the violence that happened following the elections. One thing that many of the articles forgot to mention is that this situation is not new. Gabon was under the same duress in 2009 after Ali Bongo Odimba was first elected as president after the death of his father. His opponent at the time, Andre Mba Obame, declared that Bongo had rigged the election and his supporters protested for a recounting of the votes and to elect the candidate that they believe the Gabonese people had voted for. During the protest, demonstrators also burnt government buildings and a number of arrest was made.

One can predict that another violent eruption will take place at the next Gabonese election if President Ali Bongo Ondimba is once again re-elected. There are numerous factors to the belief that the election was rigged. Whether or not Bongo was unfairly elected is not certain. The investigations led by both by the United Nation in concert with France and the U.S. shows irregularities committed by both Bongo and his opponents. Nevertheless, there are major flaws in Gabonese elections. The voter turn-out for both elections was about 98-99%. These percentage are unrealistic as they do not even happen in the most liberal democracies and in places, like Australia, where people are fined if they do not go out and vote. There are dead people who are still registered to vote and are mysteriously able to cast ballots.

Gabon needs a new president who is not from the Bongo family. Citizens will probably not stop to protest at every election if the irregularities present within the voting system are not fixed and if Bongo is once again re-elected.




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