The dust is yet to settle on the much talk about disputed presidential election in Gabon. The election did not only attract international observers, it was closely monitored by Cameroonians who took keen interest in the pre elections, elections and post elections. In fact Gabon is the second country after Cote d’Ivoire (2010-2011) whose presidential elections kept Cameroonians divided over who becomes the next president.
Gabon and Cameroon: Two Countries, same culture
A number of factors including geopolitical, linguistic and socio-economic aspects played a major role in the attention. Geographically Gabon is located just south of Cameroon, hence making movement to and from Gabon very easy. Many Cameroonian businessmen sell their goods in Gabon; several others live there and have established empires.
The people speak one language and have almost same way of life, even though many have been quick to say Gabonese are lazy.
Ali Bongo Ondimba, son of late president, Omar Bongo whose stay in power and long standing friendship with Paul Biya, made them birds of the same feathers. Paul Biya is seen as the political god father to Ali Bongo whom his father before dying is said to have told Mr Biya that he should take care of his son.
Cameroonian media also played a huge role in the elections, reporting live and setting the agenda, giving rendezvous to homes .Elections in Gabon now became a must watch event thanks to the afore mentioned aspects.
But Cameroon Concord noticed that away from these aspects, they were more issues that made the elections unprecedented in the history of Gabon’s presidential polls.
Enter Ping and The Ping Pong Game
Perhaps what made the elections more interesting were the men who stood as candidates. The fact that Jean Ping, former AU chairman had succeeded to bring closer to him former prime minister , Casmir Oye Mba and former National Assembly Speaker, Guy Nzouba who are forces to reckon with. Jean Ping was seen as the man who will put an end to the Bongo dynasty by stopping Ali Bongo from winning a second term. Majority of Gabonese therefore paid less attention to the Chinese origin of Mr Ping to give a sanction vote against Bongo, whom they think incarnates the Bongo dynasty, a name they want to erase from their dictionary. The opposition coalition led by Ping brought fears within the PDG of Mr Bongo who was forced to cancel the Franksville campaign.
But Ping began his Ping-Pong game when he unilaterally announced his victory even before official results from CENAP, the country’s electoral commission. Ping will the next day explain to the press what he meant by his declaration which was already seen as a speech geared at fuelling violence.
The attempt by Ping to also bring foreign forces into Gabon to make him win by hook or crook shows how desperate he was to have power at 73, his telephone discussion with Ivorian adviser at the presidency, MAMADI Diane, has widely gained him the title, Sellout Even if Mr Ping had won the elections, his call on the international community and his allegiance towards France goes without saying that he is the candidate of the international community.
Mr Ping was equally caught in his own cobweb when he was reminded how in 2011 when he was still the AU Chairman, he refused a recount of the Ivorian polls despite calls from Gbagbo, saying it will be injustice to Ouattara who according to him had won.
This international community, especially France which has been at the origin of several presidential choices has gone into work since the results were disputed. French Television have been shamelessly portraying Gabon as a failed state and going as far as saying Ali Bongo is not from Gabon, that he stole the polls. What power does France have to ask for a recount of votes in Gabon or any other African Country?
Even though it is very evident that Ali Bongo might have rigged the elections in his favour, especially in his home city Haut Ougue, with startling results of 99.98% of participation, only compared to North Korean elections, the fact that the dynamic president whose 7 year development program has beaten the over 40 years spent by his father, did not or not openly solicited help from France gives him more support than someone who has put Gabon on Sale.
Ali Bongos victory however came to confirm that it is very difficult and will remain difficult to beat an incumbent from the Central African sub region. Sit tight leaders who will use any means to rig elections. Gabon just like Cameroon, Congo, Chad and Equatorial Guinea have beaten records for longest serving presidents in Africa starting from late Omar Bongo to Paul Biya.