Gabon President Ali Bongo Says Will Run For Third Term

Gabon’s President Ali Bongo Ondimba listens to French President Emmanuel Macron (not seen) during a bilateral meeting at Presidential Palace in Libreville, on March 1, 2023. Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba, who has been in office for 14 years, announced on Sunday that he would run for a third term in the presidential election on 26 August. (Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN / AFP) / NO USE AFTER AUGUST 8, 2023 14:36:00 GMT

Gabon’s President Ali Bongo Ondimba said on Sunday that he would seek a third term as the oil-rich African nation’s head of state.

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“I officially announce today that I am a candidate,” he told a crowd of supporters in a speech broadcast live on his Facebook page.

Bongo, 64, took over from his father, Omar Bongo Ondimba, the country’s ruler for 41 years, in 2009.

In 2016, the president was re-elected by a mere 5,500 votes over competitor Jean Ping, who claimed the election was rigged.

Bongo suffered a stroke in 2018 and spent months rehabilitating, prompting the opposition to challenge his capacity to lead the country.

The Bongo family has dominated the country for the past 55 years and is referred to as a “dynastic power” by the opposition.

However, the opposition has been unable to settle on a single candidate for the presidential election, allowing 15 contenders to declare their intentions to run.

The Gabonese parliament voted in April to change the constitution, reducing the president’s term from seven to five years.

Sections of the opposition criticised the changes, in particular the end of two rounds of voting, as a means of “facilitating the re-election” of Bongo.

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