Gabon History

Longest-Serving Head of State Bongo Is Sworn in As Gabon's President


Albert-Bernard Bongo became Gabon's second president after Leon M'ba in 1967. He changed his name to Omar in 1973, upon converting to Islam. Strikes and riots led to a transitional constitution in May 1990, legalizing political parties and calling for free elections. In Gabon's first multiparty election in Dec. 1993, Bongo received just over 51% of the vote, while the opposition candidate alleged fraud and tried to establish a rival government.

In Dec. 1998, President Bongo, who had by then ruled the country for 31 years, was elected for an additional seven. Gabon lacks roads, schools, and adequate health care, yet income from the oil-rich country has lined the pockets of its ruler, who, according to the French weekly L'Autre Afrique, is said to own more real estate in Paris than any other foreign leader. Despite his reputation for corruption and authoritarianism, Bongo enjoyed a strong national following. In July 2003, the country's constitution was changed, allowing Bongo to be reelected indefinitely; that year, he changed his name again, to El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba. In Dec. 2005, he was reelected for another seven-year term.

Bongo died in June 2009. He was Africa's longest-serving head of state, having been in office since 1967. Ndong resigned as prime minister in July. He was replaced by Paul BiyoghC) Mba. Bongo's son, Ali Bongo Ondimba, won presidential elections in September 2009. The opposition contested the results, calling the race a "a constitutional coup d'etat" and an attempt to preserve the Bongo political dynasty. Gabon's Constitutional Court certified the results.

Prime Minister Paul Biyoghé Mba resigned in Feb. 2012 and was succeeded by Raymond Ndong Sima. Two years later, on Jan. 24, 2014, Daniel Ona Ondo was appointed prime minister.

See also Encyclopedia: Gabon .
U.S. State Dept. Country Notes: Gabon