Each week our church features a Country of the Week. We pray for the country and ask for laborers for the harvest in this country. One of the young, teenage ladies in our church has begun to help us by using her writing skills to help us give you a better understanding of the country. Thank you Rachel Harrell, awesome teen SENDER, for using your talents to motivate for world missions!
In Gabon, or the Gabonese Republic, there are nine provinces, which are compartmentalized into thirty-seven departments. In those nine provinces, there are 1,545,255 people. The official language is French, spoken by 80 percent of the population. Another 32 percent of the population speak the indigenous language, Fang, as a mother tongue. Their capitol is Libreville, which is also the largest city.
In 1910, Gabon was one of five territories in French Equatorial Africa. But on August 17, 1960, Gabon, along with French Congo, Oubangui-Chari, Chad, and French Camroon, gained independence at the dissolution of French Equatorial Africa.
The Gabonese elected their first president, Gabriel Leon M`ba, along with his vice president, Omar Bongo Ondimba, on 21 February, 1961. M`ba had been the prime minister before Gabon’s independence, and had led one of the greatest initiatives to make Gabon part of the Franco-African community.
In February of 1964, Jean-Hilaire Aubame took over the presidency for a few days by way of a coup d` état. But, the situation was dissolved when the French intervened. This rebellion was caused by suppression of all rights by M`ba. M`ba led a dictatorial presidency which was in the obvious interests of the French.
Leon M`ba was reelected as president in March 1967, but died of cancer later the same year. He was sixty-five years old and had served Gabon for over ten years. He was succeeded in office by his vice president, Albert-Bernard Bongo, otherwise known as Omar Bongo Ondimba.
Ondimba was elected President in February 1975, for the first time. He was reelected in December 1979 and November 1986, for two seven-year terms. During Ondimba’s presidency, there were many reforms instituted, the constitution was amended, and there was much government change. But there was also a large amount of civil unrest. In 1993 there was opposition to his reelection. There was some protesting against the validity of his reelection.
In 2005 Ondimba was reelected for his sixth term as president of Gabon. There was little violence at the announcement of his reelection. Gabon was, for the most part, peaceful.
But on June 8, 2009, President Omar Bongo Ondimba died of cardiac arrest. Rose Francine Rogombe, the President of Senate, became Interim President, in concordance with the amended constitution.
Leading up to the election of a new president, there were few protests. On October 16, 2009, Ali Bongo Ondimba was inaugurated. He was the son of the former president. There was a three week review of the voting by the Constitutional Court, which was brought on by claims of fraud by the candidates opposing Ondimba.
Following the announcement of Ondimba’s election, there were outbreaks of violence and protesting in Port-Gentil, Gabon’s second biggest city.
The Gabonese government is composed of few parts. The President is the head, and is elected to a seven year term; there is no limit of terms he is permitted to serve. He can appoint and dismiss a prime minister, the cabinet, and judges of the Supreme Court. He also has the authority to dissolve the National Assembly, declare a state of siege, delay legislation, and conduct referenda.
Gabon has the Senate and the National Assembly. The National Assembly consists of 120 deputies, which are elected by popular vote. They serve five year terms. The Senate consists of 102 members, which are elected by municipal councils and regional assemblies. They serve six year terms.
The Senate was created six years before actually being brought into being in 1997, during local elections. It was created in the 1990-1991 constitution rewrite. The President of Senate is next in succession after the President.
In 2009, President Ali Bongo Ondimba abolished seventeen minister-level positions and the position of vice president. He also did much in hopes of eliminating corruption and governmental greed.
In 2011, André Mba Obame declared himself the rightful president, claiming the people wished for a president they had elected (referring back to the disputed election of Ondimba). The next day, this opposition was dissolved.
Gabon’s main source of revenue is oil. Roughly 46 percent of the government’s budget is from oil revenue. It is also 43 percent of the gross domestic products and 81 percent of export. Unfortunately, oil production has dropped drastically since 1997. There is strong belief that oil in Gabon will be expended by 2025.
Gabon has been in debt over the past thirty years. Although they are well on their way to paying off their debt, they still have a long way to go.
There is a large amount of practicing Christians in Gabon, but many Gabonese mix Christianity and their indigenous animistic beliefs together. Most who practice Islam in Gabon are foreigners.
73 percent of Gabonese practice Christianity in some part. 12 percent practice Islam, although most of these are not from Gabon. 10 percent practice only the indigenous religion. 5 percent are atheists.