Libreville, Gabon (African Boulevard News) – In a surprising turn of events, Gabon’s parliament has voted to reduce the presidential term from seven to five years, just five months before the upcoming elections. This decision comes in the shadow of the Bongo family’s dictatorship, as President Ali Bongo, son of former dictator Omar Bongo, faces increasing scrutiny and opposition.
A Consensus for Change
On Thursday, April 6, the National Assembly and Senate held a joint session in the capital Libreville, where 85 percent of votes backed the proposal to reduce the presidential term, “well above the qualified majority of two-thirds required,” said assembly speaker Faustin Boukoubi. Prime Minister Alain-Claude Bilie-By-Nze confirmed that the outcome was the “result of a consensus after 10 days of political concertation between the majority and the opposition” back in February.
Ali Bongo: Continuing the Family Legacy
Ali Bongo, the current president of Gabon, is the son of former dictator Omar Bongo, who ruled the nation for 42 years before his death in 2009. Ali Bongo’s presidency has been mired in controversy, particularly following the disputed 2016 elections, in which opposition leader Jean Ping claimed victory. Ping, a former diplomat who has served as President of the United Nations General Assembly and Chairperson of the African Union Commission, has become a symbol of resistance against the Bongo family’s hold on power.
2016 Elections: A Controversial Turning Point
In 2016, Gabon’s opposition leader Jean Ping declared that he had won the presidential election, directly challenging the Bongo family’s decades-long rule. This announcement sparked widespread protests and violence across the nation, with over a thousand people arrested and at least three people killed in the unrest. The international community, including the African Union and the European Union, has since called for increased transparency and accountability in Gabon’s electoral processes.
Hope for a New Gabon?
The decision to reduce the presidential term may be a sign of hope for Gabon’s future, as it could lead to a more inclusive and democratic political landscape. This move signals a willingness to compromise and engage in dialogue between the ruling party and opposition forces, a critical step towards a more stable and democratic Gabon. However, it remains to be seen if this change will be enough to break the Bongo family’s stranglehold on power and foster genuine political reform.
Looking Ahead: Gabon’s Uncertain Future
As Gabon prepares for the upcoming elections, the nation’s political future hangs in the balance. The reduction of the presidential term marks a significant step towards change, but the Bongo family’s legacy of power and corruption casts a long shadow over the prospects for true reform. Gabonese citizens and the international community will be watching closely as the country navigates this critical moment in its history.