Friday, September 04, 2009

"I am, and I will always be the President of all the People of Gabon"--Ben Ali Bongo

Is this a self-fulfilling prophecy, a threat or a statement of peace? These are the words of the newly elected president of Gabon, Ali Ben Bongo, son of the late president Omar Bongo, who ruled for 42 years. I have already discussed this issue together with other pressing political issues on the continent with respect to the gradual transition of democracies and autocracies to dynasties. Read my comments here under the heading 'Dynasty-sation of Africa's Democracies and Autocracies'.

This morning, the Daily Graphic, Ghana's leading daily newspaper, has reported on its 'Inside Africa' page the riots that has unfortunately marked the aftermath of the Gabon election. It is a pity and sad to know that greed has taken over the very fabric of our being. Omar Bongo, is alleged to have enriched himself with his country's oil revenues, and as a result and before his untimely death, was being investigated or facing trial with Denis Sassou-Nguesso (of the Republic of Congo)and Teodoro Obiang Nguema (of Equatorial Guinea) (Daily Graphic, May 7, 2009). Yet, his son went on to stand for an election and won by 42 percent (BBC as reported in the Daily Graphic of Sept 4, 2009). According to DG:

"Officials said Ali Ben Bongo, whose father Omar Bongo ruled for four decades won the election with 42 percent of the vote. But his critics say the poll was fixed to ensure a dynastic succession..."

My fears, my prophecies have been fulfilled, though I wish it were not. And as a victory speech Ali Bongo stated:

"As far as I am concerned, I am and I will always be the president of all the people of Gabon...I am and I will always be at the service of all, without exclusion"

Is he preparing himself to also last for four decades and if possible surpass his father? I am becoming wary of such bold and emphatic speeches devoid of vision and action.

However, I wonder how 11 opposition candidates were planning to unseat such a dynastic family whose influence reaches the top echelons of French politics, even though some stepped down? Were they also there to fill their paunches or to serve the common man, for is it not in unity lies strength. With 42 percent it means that the opposition had about 58 percent (barring rejected votes), which is enough to have unseated him had they shown more maturity in coming together to form one strong opposition. What were they thinking? Was Omar Bongo buried in a golden casket or in one of his allegedly acquired numerous vehicles? A clear case of the nothingness of materiality. Next time let the opposition come together with a common purpose and they shall break the dynastic jinx that is engulfing Gabon and Africa as a whole.

Forgive me, this is an extempore writing.

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