Sunday saw the re-election of one of the world’s longest-serving
leaders, President Omar Bongo of Gabon, a former French colony in
central Africa. According to the “definitive results” on his website, Bongo, who has been president since 1967, won 79.2% of the vote to secure another seven-year term.
is probably not a well-known figure in Australia, which is a sign that
his rule has generally been moderate and unspectacular. The Independentdescribes
him as “a strict but benign dictator.” His country is quite prosperous
by African standards, and has been free from major civil disorder.
was a one-party state until 1990; since then, multi-party elections
have been held, although their fairness may be open to some dispute. The Independent
reported that one of Bongo’s rivals, Zachary Myboto (who finished third
with 6.6%), had written to him to say “It would be best to break with
the habit of claiming a percentage of the votes before the counting is
done and then doling out the remainder to the other candidates as you
Bongo’s website is well worth a visit. Most of the content is pretty restrained; his biography
describes him as “profoundly open to the world, keen on literature and
philosophy,” and conveys the curious information that he is both a
Muslim and a Freemason. “Faithful in friendship, the president has not
forgotten those who shouldered him and support him in his heavy task.”
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Even non-French readers can enjoy the drums and the fireworks.