Gabon gears up for Saturday’s presidential elections

Voters in the Central African country of Gabon will vote in presidential, legislative and local elections on Saturday, with President Ali Bongo Ondimba seeking reelection for a third term in office.

Bongo, 64, took over from his father Omar Bongo Ondimba in 2009 after the latter ruled the tiny oil-rich Central African state for more than 41 years.

Bongo was reelected in 2016 for a second seven-year term in the polls observers said was marred by violence.

Last month, the Gabonese Elections Center announced a list of 19 candidates vying for the presidency.

But six of the country’s biggest opposition parties are rallying behind a single candidate under a coalition movement Alternance 2023, to boost their prospects of unseating the incumbent.

The consensus candidate, Albert Ondo Ossa, who also ran in the 2009 presidential election, is a former education minister and the main challenger to Bongo.

The political campaigning is due to close on Friday.

Renee-Patricia Ku-Kumbe Ivigu, a Gabonese civil society activist, has called on political actors to avoid any kind of violence.

“Peace is not an absence of war but a virtue, a state of mind … In Gabon, it is a vital choice that drives our actions, every day. We call on all political actors to pull themselves together because we have no alternative country,” she told Anadolu.

Bongo has campaigned on the promise of increasing investments across the nine provinces of the country.

Paul-Marie Gondjout, a Gabonese political analyst, believes the presidential election would not produce a winner in the first round and the country may see a runoff vote.

“We are faced with an uncertain future which is a concern for many Gabonese and political actors. My appeal is for the electoral body to ensure a credible election,” Gondjout told Anadolu.

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