European seafarers began to take an interest
in the area where Gabon is today, at the end of the 15th
century. For hundreds of years it became a center for
the slave trade from Africa. In the early 1900s, the
French incorporated the area as part of the French
Equatorial Africa colony. In 1960, Gabon became
Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Gabon, covering history, economy, and social conditions.
The earliest residents of the area are believed to
have belonged to a variety of smaller peoples who were
hunting. During the last seven centuries, however, they
gradually came to be suppressed by Bantu people, who in
turn were driven away from other parts of West Africa
and therefore needed new land to feed.
In 1472, Portuguese sailors arrived. The Portuguese
explored the coast but took the greatest interest in the
islands of Săo Tomé & Príncipe. From the 16th century
and a few centuries onwards, Gabon was a center for
trade in slaves, ivory and timber. Coastal people such
as Galoa, Mpongwe and Orungu acted as middlemen for
British, French and Dutch slave traders.
The largest group of people, fang, first came to the
area in the 18th century from what is today Cameroon. In
1839 the French settled on the coast. The
French-controlled area was gradually expanded: in 1910
the entire area that now constitutes Gabon had been
colonized and became one of four territories in French
After World War II, Gabon was allowed to send
representatives to the French National Assembly in Paris
and political parties began to form. In the mid-1940s,
Léon M'Ba, Gabon's member of the French National
Assembly, founded the country's first party - later
called the Democratic Gabonese bloc (BDG). M'Bas arch
rival and replacement in parliament, Jean-Hilaire Aubame,
formed the Gabonese Democratic and Social Union (UDSG)
In 1957, elections won by BDG were held. The
following year, Gabon gained limited autonomy and M'Ba
became prime minister. Two years later, on August 17,
1960, Gabon became independent. In the elections that
were held after independence, neither country's parties
succeeded in winning a majority and they chose to
cooperate. In 1961, M'Ba was named the country's first
president while Aubame became foreign minister.
Ping also turns to the ICC
Opposition leader Ping reports the government to the International Criminal
Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity in connection with the election-related
violence after the presidential election (see August 2016). The
government has previously made the same accusations against the opposition and
reported it to the ICC.
The EU maintains electoral criticism
The EU election observers write in a final report that the uncertainties
highlighted by the team (see September 2016) mean that the
re-election of President Bongo can be called into question. The EU also condemns
the Constitutional Court's decision to stop the recalculation of votes demanded
by opposition leader Ping.
The parliamentary elections are postponed
The Ministry of the Interior announces that the parliamentary elections that
would have been held in December 2016 are postponed due to lack of money.
Instead, the election will be conducted by July 2017 at the latest.
Gabon gets a new government
President Bongo appoints Emmanuel Ngondet as prime minister for a new
government. A few ministerial posts go to opposition politicians, but the most
important ministries remain in the hands of Bongo's party PDG with allied small
parties. Of the ministers, 30 percent are women.
ICC examines election-related violence
The International Criminal Court (ICC) announces that it will, at the request
of the Gabonese government, review the violence that took place in connection
with the presidential election (see August 2016). The
government accuses opposition leader Ping of calling for genocide and crimes
against humanity during the election campaign. According to the opposition, 26
people were killed in the election-related violence while the government states
the number of dead to three. Over 800 people were arrested.
Bongo makes the presidential speech
President Bongo holds the presidency for a new term of office of seven years.
The victory goes to Bongo
The Constitutional Court rejects opposition leader Ping's appeal of the
results of the presidential election and gives the victory to Bongo. According
to the court, Bongo won with 50.66 percent of the vote while Ping received 47.24
percent. Ping dismisses the court as "biased" and says he still considers
himself president-elect and that he does not intend to withdraw. EU election
observers criticize the court, saying it failed to correct the deviations that
occurred during the election.
Some votes are recalculated
The AFP news agency states that representatives of President Bongo and of
opposition leader Ping have agreed that a recount should be made of the votes
from 2,579 polling stations.
The EU is intensifying electoral criticism
EU election observers say that "clear deviations" have occurred during the
election and point to the sensationally high turnout in the province of
Haute-Ogooue, the residence of Bongo's people group téké (see August
2016). France proposes that the votes be recalculated. Bongo accuses
the EU of being a party to the case and says there will be no recalculation
unless the Constitutional Court orders it.
Minister jumps off
The country's minister of justice, who is also deputy head of government,
resigns in protest against the election and opposition leader Ping calls for a
general strike to overthrow the government.
Requirements for conversion
Opposition leader Jean Ping claims that it is he who won the presidential
election and demands that the votes be recalculated. The riots that were
triggered when the election results became known continue. Security forces have
now arrested more than 1,000 people, including a dozen opposition leaders, and
at least five people are reported to have lost their lives.
Even elections trigger protests
In the presidential election, Ali Bongo Ondimba wins by a marginal margin
over opposition candidate Jean Ping, the election commission announces.
President Bongo receives 49.8 percent of the vote while Ping receives 48.2
percent. This means that only 5,500 votes separate the two. The opposition
accuses the government of electoral fraud and demands that the results of each
polling station be made public. One thing that arouses suspicion is the fact
that voter turnout is reported to have been as high as 99.3 percent in the
province of Haute-Ogooue, the residence of Bongo's people group téké, while it
was 60 percent on average in the country. 95 percent of those who voted in
Haute-Ogooue are said to have voted for Bongo. The EU and the US support the
opposition's demand for a more detailed account of the outcome. The message
triggers violent protests in the capital where regime-critical protesters set
fire to parliament, causing security forces to storm the opposition
headquarters. According to Ping, two people were killed and 19 injured during
Opposition rallies around Ping
After negotiations within the opposition, former President Guy Nzouba Ndama
and former Prime Minister Casimir Oye Mba decide to withdraw from the fight for
the presidential post. Both urge their supporters to vote instead for Jean Ping,
former Foreign Minister and chairman of the AU Commission.
The appeal of the world to the right choice
12th of August
The UN, EU, US and France, Germany, Italy and Spain jointly appeal to Gabon
to conduct a free and correct presidential election on 27 August. In particular,
they urge the authorities to respect the freedom of expression and to give
candidates fair access to the media. They urge the candidates for negotiation
and dialogue instead of stirring up violence and hatred.
The President gets challenged
The recently retired President Guy Nzouba Ndama announces that he will stand
in the August 27 presidential election. This further widens the gap within PDG,
which has already appointed incumbent President Ali Bongo Ondimba as its
Split within the ruling party
Nine MPs leave the ruling party PDG after three colleagues who started their
own faction within the party were excluded and deprived of their seats in
parliament. At the same time, Parliament Speaker Guy Nzouba Ndama resigns after
nearly 19 years, accusing the government of disrespecting the elected people and
Diplomatic dispute with France
Gabon calls home its ambassador from Paris since the French Prime Minister
Manuel Valls in a TV interview questioned that the 2009 Gabon presidential
election was correct and democratic.