In Gabon, outgoing President Ali Bongo Ondimba will face eighteen candidates in the presidential election scheduled for August 26. The leader who has been in power for fourteen years is the favourite. Against him, the scattered opposition is trying to form a coalition, Alternance 2023, to put together a common candidacy.
Gabon’s Electoral Center (CGE) published on Monday 24 July a list of 19 candidates for the presidential election on 26 August in Gabon.
For now, the outgoing president, Ali Bongo Ondimba, is the favorite against an opposition without a common personality, but which in unison condemns the recent changes to the electoral law.
In the night between Sunday and Monday, the CGE validated 19 candidacies out of 27 registered, five more than in 2016, but four fewer than in 2009, including those from important opposition figures: notably Alexandre Barro Chambrier, nicknamed ABC, from the Rassemblement pour la Patrie et la Modernité (RPM), and the National Union (RPM).
An election campaign is already underway
If Ali Bongo is elected on August 26 for a third term, he could spend 19 years at the head of this small oil state in Central Africa.
The 64-year-old head of state was first elected in 2009 after the death of his father Omar Bongo Ondimba, who had ruled the country for more than 41 years, and then re-elected in 2016.
If the presidential election attracts attention, legislative and local elections will be held simultaneously on August 26, with the Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG) Ali Bongo, who largely dominates parliament, the heavy favorite.
Against him, the opposition is advancing in a scattered order, but some of them, including Alexandre Barro Chambrier and Paulette Missambo, are participating in an opposition coalition, Alternance 2023, which hopes to unify a joint candidacy by August 26.
The official election campaign will take place from 11th to 25th August at midnight. But most of the candidates have led it for a year throughout the country, and Ali Bongo has multiplied an intense “republican tour” there in recent months.
A reduction in the number of observers
Five weeks before the election, pre-campaigning has started in recent weeks and Alternance 2023 has united its voices against a recent change to the electoral law.
In particular, they condemn the establishment of a ceiling of a maximum of three observers per polling station, where the old electoral law allowed each candidate to appoint a representative per office. These three observers are appointed “in parity”: one by the majority, the other by the opposition and the last by the independent candidates.
“The alleged parity between the majority and the opposition is a deception. The spotlight is given to political parties that supposedly come from the opposition that present no or very few candidates”, launched Friday François Ndong Obiang, president of the Reappropriation of Gabon, of its Independence, for its Reconstruction (React), in front of 200 member parties, activists of the Reappropriate of the Libre20, the assembly of 200 members of the Libre20 party leaders in Libernance. .
Less control of rejected ballots
Another point of contention: the removal of the envelope in which the voter placed the rejected ballots, which was attached to the one containing the ballot for the candidate he chose.
The control of the contents of the two envelopes during the counting “made it possible to ensure that there was no illegal traffic, the purchase of conscience at the exit of the polling stations”, confirmed Alexandre Barro Chambrier to AFP, condemning the removal of a “safeguard” against “fraud”.
“There has been no change in the rules of the game from my side and from the government’s side (…) When the time comes, we will prove that what has been done corresponds to the written requests of the opposition”, defended the Prime Minister, Alain-Claude Bilie-By-Nze, in a tweet a week ago. “To achieve peaceful consultations, actors must be careful not to add fuel to the fire,” he warned.
In February, a consultative forum rejected by the main opposition leaders had allowed the constitution to be changed, reducing the presidential term from seven to five years and returning the vote to a single round. His opponents had condemned a maneuver, five months before the election, to facilitate the re-election of Ali Bongo with a relative majority.