Gabon. In February, French authorities blocked Gabon’s President Omar Bongo’s accounts in French banks, after Bongo refused to obey an order from a Bordeaux court to repay the equivalent of just over SEK 4 million that he should have received in the bribe of a French businessman. He had been jailed in Gabon after a business dispute with Bongo but bought himself free. In 2008, a French court found that the payment to Bongo was illegal. French prosecutors decided in May to investigate Bongo’s real estate dealings in France, after Gabonese journalists in an open letter on the Internet accused the president of buying dozens of properties for money he incriminated himself through corruption. The journalists were prosecuted for resignation after publication. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for abbreviation GA which stands for the nation of Gabon.
In May, Bongo was hospitalized in Spain, where he died in early June. At his death, Omar Bongo was the African head of state who had been in power for a long time. He took office in 1967 and managed to retain power even after the introduction of multi-party systems and on paper free elections through a combination of threats, bribery and skillful balancing between ethnic and regional contradictions.
According to countryaah, Senate President Rose Francine Rogombé temporarily took over the presidential post pending re-election. There was great outrage when the ruling Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG) nominated the deceased president’s son Ali Ben Bongo as his presidential candidate. Prime Minister Jean Eyeghe Ndong resigned to run for office as an independent candidate, and another four ministers who wanted to stand for election were dismissed. Paul Biyoghé Mba was appointed new Prime Minister. Despite demands from the opposition for several months of suspension, the presidential election was held at the end of August.
Violent crows demanding the lives of several people erupted in several places in the country when Ali Ben Bongo was declared the winner. The anger was directed, among other things, at French interests, as the French state was accused of holding back the corrupt Bongo regime for decades. However, a nationwide protest strike was reported to have received limited support. Ali Ben Bongo took office in October. He retained Paul Biyoghé Mba as prime minister, and he presented a heavily slimmed down ministerial list with only 30 names.
Traditionally linked to France by privileged relationships, Gabon has been able to exercise a certain leadership over the countries of central Africa, financing the economic and political organizations of the region and intervening in the solution of some great conflicts. The architect of this policy was President Omar (Albert-Bernard) Bongo who, in power since 1967, was re-elected in 1993. The result of these elections was violently contested by the opposition, led by P. M’Ba Abessole, leader of the Parti gabonais du progrès (PGP), and the country found itself on the brink of civil war. The internal situation returned to normal only after the negotiations that took place in Paris in September 1994, after which Bongo formed a transitional national unity government, pending new legislative elections; these, held between December 1996 and January 1997, again saw the Parti démocratique gabonais (PDG) prevail, but Abessole managed to win the office of mayor of the capital, Libreville. In May 1997 Bongo appointed Divungui-Di-Ndinge-Didjob, a leading member of the opposition, member of the Alliance démocratique et républicaine (ADR), vice-president (a position established just a month earlier by the Assembly of Deputies). In December 1998, Bongo was re-elected president with over 66 % of the vote.
Libreville has three colorful markets in the neighborhoods of Akebe-Plaine, Mont Boouét and Nkembo. On the outskirts of these markets one can buy sculptures made in old style and using traditional techniques for tourists. Carved masks (fang), small figures, clay pots and traditional musical instruments are also popular souvenirs. Opening hours of the shops: generally Mon-Sat 08.00-12.00 and 15.00-19.00. Some shops are closed on Mondays.
In Libreville there are nightclubs with music and bars. There are several fine restaurants, but the prices are relatively high. Casinos can be found in several large hotels.
The local dishes are excellent and distinctive, but not always available as many restaurants specialize in Senegalese cuisine. Numerous restaurants offer Cameroonian and Congolese dishes similar to the local cuisine.
There are several top hotels in Libreville and first class hotels in Port-Gentil, Masuku (Franceville), Mouila, Lambaréné, Oyem, Koulamoutou, Makokou and Tchibanga. Most accommodations are quite expensive. There are more and more comfortable places to stay, especially on the coast and in towns near national parks. But you can also find hotels in larger cities in other parts of the country. More from GABONTOUR (see addresses).
It’s free, but the options are limited. Caution is advised.
Catholics (52%), indigenous religions (40%), Protestants (8%) and Muslims (1%).
Social Rules of Conduct
Dance, singing, poems and legends play an important role in the country’s tradition. Photographing military installations is strictly prohibited. In general, permission should be obtained beforehand to avoid misunderstandings. Tipping: Unless included in the bill, 10-15%.
Best travel time
Equatorial climate with high humidity. Dry season from June to September (best travel time) and from December to January, rainy season from February to May and from October to mid-December. During the dry season, trade winds blow.
Area (sq km)
Population density (per square km)
Population statistics year
Main emergency number