News

    Polls Open in Gabon

    Multimedia

    Audio

    Voters in Gabon are choosing a new president to succeed long-time ruler Omar Bongo.  Mr. Bongo died in June after 42 years in power.

    Former defense minister Ali Ben Bongo leads a crowded field of candidates in  Sunday's vote. The late president's son has the best-financed campaign, the support of security services, and the electoral infrastructure of the ruling Gabonese Democratic Party.

    Bongo told VOA's French to Africa Service that he has the experience in both foreign and domestic affairs to provide strong leadership for Gabon.

    Bongo says he will bring peace and development to Gabon by more equitably distributing national wealth, most of which comes from oil revenues. Bongo is promising to improve education, nearly double the minimum wage and build more than 5,000 new homes a year.

    The nomination of the former president's son led to some divisions within the ruling party.

    Former Bongo prime minister Jean Ndong says past policies must change.

    Ndong told a pre-election rally that voters are going to choose the candidate for tomorrow and it is him, not because of his ethnicity but because he is simply the right candidate.

    Civil society groups urged government opponents to unite behind a single candidate. Ndong and several other candidates eventually withdrew to support former interior minister Andre Mba Obame.

    Former ruling-party official and minister of mining and petroleum Casimir Oye Mba took part in those talks to choose a single candidate but denied media reports that he had joined Ndong in dropping out of the race to back Obame.

    While maintaining his own candidacy, Mba says everyone knows that a single opposition candidate has the best chance of challenging the ruling-party.

    Civil society groups say opposition parties have failed to unite behind a single candidate because many believe they can win the election outright on their own. Even a small percentage of the vote could be enough to earn a candidate a ministerial post in the next government.

    Despite the support of some of his former rivals, Obame has not emerged as the leading opposition candidate because long-time challenger Pierre Mamboundou remains in the race. The Union of the Gabonese People candidate finished second to Omar Bongo in 1998 and 2005.

    After 42 years under Omar Bongo, Mamboundou says voters in Gabon do not want more of the same with his son Ali. Mamboundou says Gabon can not accept power passing dynastically from father to son. He campaigned on a platform of universal health coverage.

    Gabon's electoral commission has registered an improbable more-than-800,000 people for Sunday's vote. With fewer than one-and-a-half-million people, 40 percent of whom are below the age of 15, observers estimate the number of eligible voters could not be much more than 700,000.

    The government says local and international reporters may not speculate on results or voting trends and can only relay provisional returns announced by the interior ministry through state-run media.

    Interior Minister Francois Ndoungou says voters should return home Sunday and wait for the government to announce the winner. Several opposition candidates say they will take their supporters into the streets if there is any indication of vote rigging. Ndoungou says the government will use all forces at its disposal to put down any dissent to the official results.
     

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora