Africa > Central Africa > Gabon > Gabon Government Profile

Gabon: Gabon Government Profile

2015/03/12

Ali_Bongo_Ondimba,_President_of_Gabon

 Ali Ben Bongo was declared the winner of the presidential election on 3 September 2009. He had been widely tipped to succeed his father, Omar Bongo, who died in June after 42 years in power.

At the time of his death, Omar Bongo was Africa's longest-serving head of state, having led Gabon since he succeeded the post-independence leader Leon Mba in 1967.

Omar Bongo portrayed himself as the custodian of Gabon's political stability and was credited with encouraging foreign investment. His critics accused him of having authoritarian tendencies.

Opponents of the late president have long accused the Bongo family of running the country as their private property. Omar Bongo amassed a vast fortune during his time in office, and was accused of embezzling oil revenues and bribery.

Along with Equatorial Guinea's Teodoro Obiang Nguema and Congo-Brazzaville's Denis Sassou Nguesso, the late president was the subject of a long-running fraud probe by French police into the source of money spent on assets in France.

Opposition leaders denounced his son's election as a fraud, saying that the poll had been fixed in order to ensure a dynastic succession.

Though the election result was confirmed by Gabon's Constitutional Court, opposition leaders continued to dispute it, describing Ali Bongo's victory as "a constitutional coup d'etat".

In 2011, the main opposition candidate in the 2009 vote, Andre Mba Obame, said he was the rightful winner and legitimate president. In response, Mr Bongo banned Mr Obame's opposition National Union, upon which Mr Obame took refuge in the UN compound in Libreville.

Born in 1959 in Brazzaville, Ali Ben Bongo was educated in France from the age of nine and graduated from the Sorbonne with a PhD in law.

He entered politics in 1981 and became foreign affairs minister in 1989, but was forced to stand down in 1991 because he was too young. He later served as defence minister from 1999 to 2009.

Both he and his father converted to Islam in 1973, when Ali Ben changed his name from Alain Bernard Bongo.

He is said to be a gifted musician - inheriting his talent from his mother, the Gabonese singer Patience Dabany - and is also a passionate football fan, something he shares with many of his countrymen.

Government

Gabon is a republic with a presidential form of government under the 1961 constitution (revised in 1975, rewritten in 1991, and revised in 2003). The president is elected by universal suffrage for a 7-year term; a 2003 constitutional amendment removed presidential term limits and facilitated a presidency for life. The president can appoint and dismiss the prime minister, the cabinet, and judges of the independent Supreme Court. The president also has other strong powers, such as authority to dissolve the National Assembly, declare a state of siege, delay legislation, and conduct referenda.

The country has a bicameral legislature with a National Assembly and Senate. The National Assembly has 120 deputies who are popularly elected for a 5-year term. The Senate is composed of 102 members who are elected by municipal councils and regional assemblies and serve for 6 years. The President of the Senate is next in succession to the President.

In November 2009, President Bongo Ondimba announced a new vision for the modernization of Gabon, called "Gabon Emergent." This program contains three pillars: Green Gabon, Service Gabon, and Industrial Gabon. The goals of Gabon Emergent are to diversify the economy so that Gabon becomes less reliant on petroleum, to eliminate corruption, and to modernize the workforce. Under this program, exports of raw timber have been banned, a government-wide census was held, the work day has been changed to eliminate a long midday break, and a national oil company was created.

For administrative purposes, Gabon is divided into 9 provinces, which are further divided into 36 prefectures and 8 separate subprefectures. The president appoints the provincial governors, the prefects, and the subprefects.

Type: Republic; multiparty presidential regime

Capital: Libreville - 619,000 (2009)

Administrative Divisions: 9 provinces;gabon-provinces-numbered.png

  1. Estuaire,
  2. Haut-Ogooue,
  3. Moyen-Ogooue,
  4. Ngounie,
  5. Nyanga,
  6. Ogooue-Ivindo,
  7. Ogooue-Lolo,
  8. Ogooue-Maritime,
  9. Woleu-Ntem

Independence Date: 17 August 1960 (from France)

Legal System: mixed legal system of French civil law and customary law. Gabon has not submitted an International Court of Justice (ICJ) jurisdiction declaration. It accepts International Criminal Court (ICCt) jurisdiction.

Suffrage: 21 years of age; universal

Government type: 

republic; multiparty presidential regime

Administrative divisions: 

9 provinces; Estuaire, Haut-Ogooue, Moyen-Ogooue, Ngounie, Nyanga, Ogooue-Ivindo, Ogooue-Lolo, Ogooue-Maritime, Woleu-Ntem

Independence: 

17 August 1960 (from France)

National holiday: 

Independence Day, 17 August (1960)

Constitution: 

adopted 14 March 1991

Legal system: 

based on French civil law system and customary law; judicial review of legislative acts in Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage: 

21 years of age; universal

Legislative branch: 

bicameral legislature consists of the Senate (102 seats; members elected by members of municipal councils and departmental assemblies to serve six-year terms) and the National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (120 seats; members are elected by direct, popular vote to serve five-year terms) elections: Senate - last held 18 January 2009 (next to be held in January 2015); National Assembly - last held 17 and 24 December 2006 (next to be held in December 2011)

Judicial branch: 

Supreme Court or Cour Supreme consisting of three chambers - Judicial, Administrative, and Accounts; Constitutional Court; Courts of Appeal; Court of State Security; County Courts

Political parties and leaders : 

Circle of Liberal Reformers or CLR [General Jean Boniface ASSELE]; Congress for Democracy and Justice or CDJ [Jules Aristide Bourdes OGOULIGUENDE]; Democratic and Republican Alliance or ADERE [Divungui-di-Ndinge DIDJOB]; Gabonese Democratic Party or PDG (former sole party) [Simplice Nguedet MANZELA]; Gabonese Party for Progress or PGP [Benoit Mouity NZAMBA]; Gabonese Union for Democracy and Development or UGDD [Zacherie MYBOTO]; National Rally of Woodcutters or RNB; National Rally of Woodcutters-Rally for Gabon or RNB-RPG (Bucherons) [Fr. Paul M'BA-ABESSOLE]; Party of Development and Social Solidarity or PDS [Seraphin Ndoat REMBOGO]; People's Unity Party or PUP [Louis Gaston MAYILA]; Social Democratic Party or PSD [Pierre Claver MAGANGA-MOUSSAVOU]; Union for Democracy and Social Integration or UDIS; Union of Gabonese Patriots or UPG [Pierre MAMBOUNDOU]

Political pressure groups and leaders: 

NA

International organization participation: 

ACCT, ACP, AfDB, AU, BDEAC, CEMAC, FAO, FZ, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, MINURCAT, NAM, OIC, OIF, OPCW, UN, UN Security Council (temporary), UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNMIS, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Flag description: 

three equal horizontal bands of green (top), yellow, and blue