1) Absence of representatives at Haut Ogooue
Usually the incumbent uses all his power to make sure he wins by hook or crook and is able with his resources including state resources like case with Cameroon to send party observers in all polling stations. In the case of Gabon, opposition leader Jean PING was well represented in all polling stations but for the Haut Ogoue province, stronghold of ALI Bongo, with over 200 polling stations out of over 2500 in the country. By not having observers in these areas, Jean PING had given room for just anything to happen. The votes there were delayed and later brought to Franceville by plane.
2) Partial Coalition and Deadlock at CENAP
The coalition between Jean PING, Guy Nzuba and Casimir Oye Mba was a killer for Ali BONGO but they failed to take into consideration the other minor opposition leaders who could have decided for Ping when the time came. Gabon’s CENAP remain a blue print with small amelioration for Cameroons elections, if ELECAM can borrow from them. When the deadlock occurred during vote with Pings party contesting the results; the laws say members of CENAP who were eight will vote .Ping had a representative , other opposition members were represented by three members and presidential majority four. If the opposition had voted 4 against 4, it would have been tight. But since PING had neglected other opposition parties throughout the campaign, 2 voted in favor of the results including 4 from presidential majority, making it 6, 1 empty ballot and 1 absent, that representative of PING who left the hall in anger. That is how CENAP validated the results of Haut Ogooue.
3) Poor Campaign Strategy
The PING camp spent their time verifying the origin of ALI Bongo while at that moment, Mr ALI was campaigning trying to avoid using the name Bongo which many Gabonese say has taken them hostage for 50 years. PING camp also brandished foreign flags openly showing its affiliation with some foreign bodies and countries. PING was seen by many as candidate of France. Gabon 24 broadcast a report where PING describes the people of Haut-Ogooue as cockroaches and rats. This also played a great role in tarnishing his image. This piece is not seeking to justify that ALI Bongo won in a free and fair elections but to let readers understand how the opposition let power go from their hands because of some minor issues. ALI Bongo and France A renown Cameroon lawyer and presidential candidate of last 2011 elections, Jean De Dieu MOMO questioned why PING who knew that the process was not going to be fair, still went ahead as candidate.
Perhaps with support of France and the international community he has been calling to intervene. France has always supported late Omar Bongo and renewed the deal when they supported ALI Bongo in 2009 and made it clear to the opposition that he, ALI won the disputed polls. This same France which supported him comes in 2016 to declare that ALI did not win. The reasons are simple. When ALI took over power in 2009 he decided to change Gabon for better by reviewing the agreement of Total, a French Company which has about 44%of the SOGARA lone oil refinery, he also stopped the exportation of woods from Gabon.ALI urged French companies to process their Timber in Gabon before selling the finished products. This led to job creation about 3000.These two factors have vexed Paris to the extent that they decided to axe ALI.
The apparently lost remote control of the robot they created. Mr ALI has done what his father failed to do in his 42 years reign, in just seven years, taking Gabon to a different level. He reduced salaries of the president of Gabon's national Assembly who previously earned over 180 million Francs CFA, ministers who earned 30-40 million francs a month. It is obvious these changes will lead to massive resignation in his country. But ALI failed to preach by example, by cutting down cost; he failed to do same in his lifestyle and household. He continued to live a lavish life with private jets and other luxuries. In all, the current situation in Gabon is being fueled by former colonial master France which since independence has refused to leave Gabon’s socio-political, economic and cultural life. The world should hold France responsible is Gabon becomes another Cote D’Ivoire.
NFOR Hanson Nchanji Journalist, Social critic and Activist