A crowded pack of challengers is lined up for tomorrow’s presidential elections in the west African state of Gabon. The race is on to succeed Omar Bongo, who ruled the oil-rich country for 40 years until his death in June. His son, Ali, is the favourite, although several rivals have united behind one candidate in the hope of stopping the younger Bongo’s accession. He, though, remains optimistic:
“You’re going to take the electoral list, and there you’ll find my picture,” said Ali. “I will be in a suit and tie, looking very presidential.” Ali’s father Omar had good relations with foreign investors, but he is accused of lining his own pockets rather than using Gabon’s oil wealth to help the poor. The large number of candidates may split the opposition, but the former Interior Minister Andre Mba Obame has at least succeeded in persuading five other challengers to pull out and support his campaign. Gabon’s electoral system is rare in that the Presidency is decided in a single round. The winner need not even pass 50 per cent, but will be elected by a simple majority.