The sun also rises in Gabon. At least that’s what opposition parties feared and are desperate to stop in the upcoming presidential elections due on August 30.“ We don’t want the genies released from the bottle neither do we want to create a dynasty that would make us look silly one anti-government figure said.
Elsewhere, the election would have just been one of those votes where Observers, Local or International, would have penciled a pass mark with the remarks, “It was relatively free and fair although there were so many irregularities which were not that high to have led to a violation of known democratic principles.” But in Gabon, replacing the late Omar Bongo is not something to toy about.
Most Gabonese say they are about to see the light at the end of the countries political tunnel.
Well after 40 years of Bongo’s rule, it is difficult to disagree particularly when most Gabonese say they don’t know whether their lives have been better or not.
To show that the boat of the Democratic Party has sprung a leak, Prime Minister Jean Ndong resigned his post to throw his hat in the ring to contest the election.
He said he was “appalled” over the way, the son of the late president has been “pushed into the contest ring.” He will run as an independent candidate but what impact his presence in the poll would make remains disputed except that vital votes which the party would have had either go to the opposition or better still, flutter in the wind.
For the opposition, the feeling is that their time has come. This may be a mirage like chasing the desert storm. But as is widely believed, drowning men would hang even on straws. Five opposition parties rallied around Pierre Mamboundou to shoo him as their presidential candidate but as is unduly behaved in Gabon and elsewhere, policies is the art of getting money from the rich and votes from the poor on the pretext of protecting one from the other.
The question which most Gabonese are asking is whether they are ready for a change to shake the dust off their feet from the Bongo family whose influence is still infectious
The hue and cry shaping the preindustrial stage remains the presence of 50-year-old Ali Ben Bongo, a former defence minister in his late father’s cabinet.
That Ali was the predetermined candidate-in-waiting is not a thorough shock to the oil-rich Gabon but what many say had rubbed salt on the wound is that the successor had hovered between him and her sister, Pascadine who has worked as their father’s chief of staff on the presidency.
This had led to the conclusion, whether rightly or otherwise, that the upcoming election may turn over and be like the old document of state continuity. With about a month more to go before the election, it is now precisely certain who the front runner is although Ali Bongo has one foot ahead of the other two contenders.
But policies in Gabon could leave one timid or nervous when voting comes into play.
Here today, gone tomorrow remains a key sentence particularly where oil wealth is in play and it is difficult to tamper with the unique Gabonese lifestyle which makes them black Frenchmen and women in the continent.
In the midst of it all, analysts say the election will save Gabon the chance of either departing from the old ways and doing things to new methods or throttling itself with the status quo.
As one analyst put it, “It’s a go-no-go situation which other African nations never had the chance to think about.”
For the moment, however, the politicized landscape remains tense and the glamour for power is leading many Gabonese politicians to adopt a policy of the deaf. It would be best not to cast caution to the wind and opt for a free, fair and transparent election.
Whether the years of the late Omar Bongo’s rule have been rewarding would ultimately be for the people of Gabon to decide in the upcoming poll.
No doubt many politicians are now showing feverish feelings as a result or pre-preindustrial election dependent as to what they would get from it all after the election ends.
What it may all end up being would be to differentiate the true leader in Gabonese policies. From the professional politician – the first lives for politics, the second lives off politics. The election may turn out to be a modern David and Goliath win.
By Rod Mac-Johnson