Gabon celebrates 60 years of independence on Monday (August 17), marked by a military parade in the capital Libreville attended by President Ali Bongo. The oil-rich country gained its independence from France in 1960 and has been led by the Bongo Administration since 1967 when Omar Bongo became the leader.
During a television address on Sunday night, President Bongo used the country’s anniversary of independence as an opportunity, to sum up, his performance as President since succeeding his father in 2009.
“On the political level, despite the trials and tribulations with which we are confronted, Gabon remains united and together," said President Bongo.
President Bongo was re-elected in 2016 following a vote that was contested by the opposition party leader, a former Gabonese foreign minister, and ex-chairperson of the African Union Commission.
“Economically, we can all see progress, although it's certainly insufficient,” said President Bongo, in his 60th-anniversary address. “Progress isn’t fast enough, but it's still undeniable. There’s been delay over global factors that hit all countries.”
President Bongo also touched on employment, education, digital services, and healthcare, saying Gabon must rely on its past in order to build for the future.
President Bongo effectively ruled in absentia while recuperating in Rabat, appearing in videos recorded in Morocco and making trips back and forth to Libreville in order to swear in a new government.
During his time in Morocco, Gabon suffered a high-profile coup attempt called “Operation Dignity” led by Lieutenant Kelly Ondo Obiang who took over the state-run television and broadcast a message describing Bongo's absence as a “spectacle” bringing shame on the country.