Intrigues about the ‘Second Phase’ of Gabon’s Elections

Alao Abiodun
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Gabon held its ‘second round’ of parliamentary elections with the ruling Gabonese Democratic Party, PDG, winning with absolute majority in the first round and confirming its supremacy in the second. Out of 143 deputies, the opposition won just 17 seats. Interestingly, Gabon has been ruled by the same political dynasty for long.

The Opposition leader Jean Ping, who lost to President Ali Bongo in the 2016 presidential election had boycotted the vote and denounced electoral fraud. Other opposition parties that took part in the second round of the elections equally denounced aspects such as the transportation of voters by the ruling party, vote buying and the manipulation of ballot sheets.

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The ruling party in Gabon won a large parliamentary majority in an election that ended at the weekend, taking 98 of the 143 seats in the National Assembly, according to official results published. The two-round election held on October 6 and 27 was the first major vote in the oil-exporting equatorial African country since a presidential poll in 2016, which was marred by bloodshed after incumbent President Ali Bongo Ondimba was declared the winner, defeating his main rival Jean Ping.

However, a movement named ‘The Democrats’ led by former parliament speaker Guy Nzouba-Ndama is now the main opposition party with 11 members of parliament, while the Heritage and Modernity Rally won four seats and the National Union took two.

In the last parliamentary elections in 2011, the PDG took more than 100 seats out of a total of 120. The size of the national assembly grew to 143 members early this year after a revision of constituency sizes and boundaries.

However, in the first phase of the election, Gabon’s ruling party won just over half of the parliamentary seats in the first round of legislative elections in a vote marred by low turnout, the elections committee said. Gabon with a population 1.8m people have continued to endure the continuous reign of the president as it is not easy to avoid president Ali Bongo Ondimba’s face, Bongo, who has been president since 2009, is quietly following his father’s steps who ruled for 42 years.

In addition to immediate fears of potential unrest, the crisis in Gabon reflects deep public concerns about the fairness of election processes, the trustworthiness of state institutions, and the ability of Gabon’s democracy to respect the will of the people.

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