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presidential term reduced from seven to five years

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On Thursday, the National Assembly and the Gabonese Senate meeting in Congress carried out a revision of the country’s constitution, making it possible to reduce the mandate of the President of the Republic from seven to five years, and the ballot from two to a single round. A change denounced by part of the opposition.

The Parliament of Gabon voted Thursday, April 6 a revision of the Constitution reducing from seven to five years the mandate of the President of the Republic and the ballot from two to a single round, less than five months from the presidential and legislative elections.

These changes, in particular the one-round ballot, have been denounced by part of the opposition (which is currently very divided) as a means of “facilitating the re-election” potentially by a relative majority of the leader of State Ali Bongo Ondimba, who has ruled the country for more than 13 years.

The National Assembly and the Senate, meeting in Congress in Libreville, “adopted the draft revision of the Constitution”, by “86% of the votes cast”, “well above the required qualified majority of two thirds”, declared the President of the National Assembly Faustin Boukoubi, after a vote broadcast live by public television Gabon Première.

“Consensus Results”

Prime Minister Alain-Claude Bilie-By-Nze immediately welcomed this revision, “result of a consensus resulting from a 10-day political consultation” in February “between the majority and the opposition”. However, this dialogue had been shunned by important opposition leaders and their parties.

The revision establishes in particular the alignment of all political mandates at five years (it was seven for the president), the “non-limitation of all political mandates” and the return to a one-round ballot “for all elections” (it had gone to two rounds during a previous revision in 2018).

All within five months – end of August – of the presidential, legislative and local elections, the precise date of which has not yet been announced.

Ali Bongo, not yet a presidential candidate

Ali Bongo, 64, was elected in 2009 after the death of his father Omar Bongo Ondimba, who ruled this small oil-rich Central African country for more than 41 years. He had been re-elected with difficulty in 2016 with only 5,500 votes ahead of opponent Jean Ping who had denounced a rigged election.

Victim of a stroke in October 2018 which left him far from the political scene for a long month, and following which the opposition continues to question his physical capacity to lead the country, he has not yet announced his candidacy for the summer of 2023.

But there is little doubt about it, demanded by its all-powerful Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG), ultra-majority in both chambers of Parliament.

Gabon has been ruled by the Bongo family for 55 years, with the opposition regularly denouncing “dynastic power”. But the latter does not manage to agree on a single candidate.

Fifteen people have already announced their intention to stand as a candidate against Ali Bongo. And not yet his fiercest opponents, such as Jean Ping, Paulette Missambo of the National Union (UN), or Alexandre Barro Chambrier of the Rally for the Fatherland and Modernity (RPM).

With AFP


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