Looming election

Gabon’s President Ali Bongo Ondimba sets his sights on 2023

By Marwane Ben Yahmed

Premium badge Reserved for subscribers

Posted on March 16, 2022 14:38

Firefox_Screenshot_2022-03-16T11-44-25.998Z Ali Bongo in Libreville, 12 March 2022. © Gabon Presidency
Ali Bongo in Libreville, 12 March 2022. © Gabon Presidency

The approach was nothing new. However, a firm decision had been made. On 12 March at 10:30 am, Gabon’s President Ali Bongo Ondimba made his way to the podium in Libreville’s Botanical Garden. He was greeted by a huge crowd, something that had not been seen since before Covid. Nearly 8,000 people waved Gabonese flags and chanted “Ali, Ali, Ali!” The atmosphere was electric.

It had been four years since the head of state had last addressed the activists of the Parti Démocratique Gabonais (PDG) in person. This Saturday, on the 54th convention of the party formed by the late president Omar Bongo Ondimba on 12 March 1969, Ali Bongo Ondimba reconnected with his past.

Physical consequences

In October 2018, while attending an international forum in Riyadh, Ondimba suffered a stroke. Physically, the effects are still visible. The President now walks with a cane and talks slightly slower. But intellectually, “the machine works just as well as before. He has recovered his level of English. He’s expressing himself perfectly,” says environment minister Lee White, who is of Scottish origin.

According to those close to Ondimba, the big difference is that he is more determined than ever. It is as if he is trying to make up for lost time. “The pace of work has quickened,”

There's more to this story

Get unlimited access to our exclusive journalism and features today. Our award-winning team of correspondents and editors report from over 54 African countries, from Cape Town to Cairo, from Abidjan to Abuja to Addis Ababa. Africa. Unlocked.

Subscribe Now

cancel anytime