The industry has little significance for Gabon’s economy. It is primarily based on its own natural resources such as oil, timber, agricultural products and, increasingly, products from the mining industry.
There are also smaller factories that make consumer goods such as soap, paint, cement, cigarettes and textiles. Lack of manpower, high wages, poor roads and a small domestic market are problems for the expansion of the industry. Improved infrastructure as well as the establishment of special economic zones are hoped to contribute to further growth in this sector.
Bongo affected by stroke
President Bongo suffered a stroke during his state visit to Saudi Arabia, the Gabonese Vice President announces (see October 2018).
Bongo flies to Morocco
President Bongo is flown to Rabat in Morocco for further care. He became ill on October 24 in Riayd, Saudi Arabia.
The presidential power is distributed
The Constitutional Court makes an addition to the constitution to fill the power vacuum that arose when Bongo fell ill at the end of October. The addition states that in cases where the president is temporarily unable to hold office, certain functions must be assumed by either the Vice President or the Prime Minister. The distribution of powers shall be decided by the Constitutional Court.
Bongo seriously ill
The presidential office announces for the first time that President Bongo is seriously ill, but says his health is improving. Bongo was hospitalized in Saudi Arabia on October 24. The lack of public information has led to rumors, for example that Bongo was dead, that he had a stroke and that he was suffering from acute fatigue.
Muted joy when PDG wins the election
President Bongo’s ruling party PDG wins 24 of 60 seats in the second round of parliamentary elections. In total, PDG receives 98 of Parliament’s 143 seats and receives a clear majority in the legislative assembly. In total, the opposition only gets 17 seats: the newly formed Alliance Democrats get 11, the Heritage and Modernity Collection wins 4 and the National Union takes home 2 seats. Eight seats go to independent candidates. The remaining 20 mandates go to small parties that are allied with PDG. The turnout is stated to be low. In parts of Libreville, only 15 percent of voters go to the polls. Election day is reported to be calm, no serious violent incidents occur. The government’s celebration of electoral victory is also dampened, as a result of President Bongo being hospitalized a few days earlier in Saudi Arabia. Information on Bongo’s health status varies. Some sources say he suffered from acute exhaustion, others from stroke.
Quiet when delayed elections are held
Gabon is carrying out a heavily delayed election to the National Assembly (Parliament’s lower house). The election would have been held as early as 2016 but has been postponed three times. The electoral movement is described as low-key, especially compared to the unrest that characterized the 2016 presidential election. One reason may be that the opposition is more divided and weakened this time. Some parties, including opposition leader Ping’s political camps, have called for election boycotts, while others are running for candidates. President Bongo’s ruling party PDG wins 74 out of 83 seats in the first round of parliamentary elections. Three mandates go to PDG’s support parties, two mandates go to independent members while opposition parties only get four seats. Election observers from the AU describe the election as “satisfactory” without irregularities. Other organizations report on attempts to buy voice.
Swing strap hits state officials
The government announces that the salaries of low-paid civil servants should be frozen, while the salaries of other civil servants should be reduced by between 5 and 15 percent. Other expenses are also lost and staff should be dismissed at the presidential office and the ministries. No new appointments will be made in the next three years. A census should be conducted so that people who do not exist can be removed from government payrolls. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) requires Gabon to lose its extensive public sector in order to gain access to new loans.
The government resigns and is reinstated
The Constitutional Court dissolves Parliament’s lower house and orders the government to resign. The reason is that the government has failed to organize parliamentary elections. The Court points out that elections would have been held on April 30 after being postponed twice (it would have actually taken place at the end of 2016). The Senate takes over the legislative powers of the House of Commons until elections can be held. Prime Minister Emmanuel Issoze Ngondet submits his resignation on May 1. Two days later, he is re-elected head of government for a new government in which half of the ministers are replaced.
Free Trade Agreement in Africa
Gabon is one of 44 countries to sign a Free Trade Agreement at the African Union Summit in Rwanda. The agreement must be ratified at the national level before the AFCFTA free trade area can become a reality, but it is seen as a historically important step towards increased trade exchange within Africa.
Bongo’s house in Paris is occupied
Supporters of opposition leader Jean Ping occupy a building in Paris owned by President Bongo. The house, Pozzo di Borgo, is located in one of Paris’s finer parts and has been bought and renovated for over € 200 million, demonstrators say Bongo used funds from the state treasury for the purchase and therefore the house belongs to the Gabonese people.
Constitutional change strengthens the president
Parliament adopts a draft constitutional amendment that will strengthen the influence of the president; According to the previous constitutional text, the president was to govern the country in cooperation with the government. Now the president is commissioned to “shape national politics” and the ministers are required to pledge allegiance to the president. Opposition leader Jean Ping rejects the changes and says they aim to create “an absolute monarchy ” for Bongo. The opposition has run a campaign to limit Bongo’s rule, but the president should be able to be re-elected as many times as possible. On the other hand, another demand from the opposition is heard: that a second round of elections should be held if none of the candidates in a presidential election receives 50 percent of the votes in the first round.