Focus On

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A poster of President Omar Bongo is displayed in central Libreville, Gabon.

Focus on Gabon

June 13, 2008
by Liz Colville
Gabon, the small country in West Africa, has been ruled by its president, Omar Bongo, for 40 years. He is the longest-serving nonmonarchial leader in the world. How has he retained his hold on power and what is the state of this nation today?

A Brief History

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Perspectives on Gabon

According to Rice, Gabon is, on paper, one of the richest countries in Africa, but the distribution of its wealth is profoundly inequitable: “half of the population remains poor.” There is a “shortage of schools and clinics,” even though the Libreville waterfront offers a deceptive appearance of luxury. A leader of the country’s oppositional Bongo Must Go party says that Gabon “should be like Dubai.” But this experience only reaches the very few—Bongo, his family and government officials.
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