gabon - -1Econ 223 22 February 2007 A Brief Summary of...

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- 1 - Econ 223 22 February 2007 A Brief Summary of Gabon The Gabonese Republic, more commonly referred to as Gabon, is a relatively small country on the western coast of Africa. It is slightly smaller than Colorado and borders Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, the Republic of the Congo and the Gulf of Guinea. Since gaining independence from France on August 17, 1960 there have been just two presidents. The current president, El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba, has been in power since 1967 and is currently Africa’s longest serving head of state. In the early 1990’s, a new multi-party political system was put in place and a new democratic constitution was initiated to allow the reform of many governmental institutions as well as creating a more decisive electoral process. Combining a relatively small population with abundant natural resources and a large amount of foreign private investment has helped to make Gabon one of the more successful countries in its region. It has a per capita GDP of over $7,000 which is approximately four times the average of its region. Before colonization, Gabon was largely inhabited by Pygmy tribes. During the Bantu migrations however, the Pygmy people were pushed out of their colonies or absorbed by the Bantu. French explorer Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza led his first mission to the Gabon-Congo area in 1875. Upon arriving in Gabon, he founded the town of Franceville earning him enough respect to later be elected colonial governor of the region. Several Bantu groups inhabited the area when France officially occupied it in 1885, and then in 1910 Gabon became one of the four territories of French Equatorial Africa, a federation that survived until 1959. These territories officially became independent on August 17, 1960.
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- 2 - The first president of Gabon, elected in 1961, was Léon M’ba, with Omar Bongo Ondimba as his vice president. When M'Ba died in 1967, Bongo replaced him as president, and has been the head of state ever since, winning each contested election with a substantial majority. Bongo is currently one of the longest serving heads of state in the world. In March of 1991 a new constitution was adopted to provide more political stability to the region. These reforms worked in theory, but allegations of electoral fraud during local elections in 2002-03 and the presidential elections in 2005 have exposed the weaknesses of formal political structures in Gabon. Bongo’s only real political opposition is typically weak, unorganized, weakly funded, and in fact dependant on its current regime. Despite these often weak political conditions, a combination of a small population, abundant natural resources, and considerable foreign support have helped make Gabon one of the more prosperous and stable African countries, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. Among its political provisions are a bill of rights, the creation of the National Council of Democracy that also oversees the guarantee of those rights, and a governmental advisory board which deals with economic and social issues. Multi-party
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This note was uploaded on 04/23/2008 for the course ECON 220 taught by Professor Decoster during the Spring '08 term at Bowdoin College.

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gabon - -1Econ 223 22 February 2007 A Brief Summary of...

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