19 candidates set to compete in Gabon’s presidential race

19 candidates set to compete in Gabon’s presidential race

Presidential candidates for Aug. 26 polls include 2 women

By James Tasamba

KIGALI, Rwanda (AA) – Election officials in the Central African nation of Gabon on Monday announced a list of 19 candidates nominated to contest in presidential elections scheduled for next month.

The list includes incumbent President Ali Bongo Ondimba and two women candidates -- Victoire Lasseni Duboze, who is running as an independent, and Paulette Missambo, running on a ticket of the National Union and seen as one of the main rivals of President Bongo.

Bongo, 64, declared earlier this month that he is set to seek a third term as the candidate of the ruling Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG).

Some 27 people had submitted their applications to contest in the Aug. 26 election, according to Michel Stephane Bonda, the president of the Gabonese Elections Center.

Another leading challenger is Alexandre Barro Chambrier, a former oil minister in the outgoing government, who is standing on the opposition Rally for the Fatherland and Modernity (RPM) party’s ticket.

Several candidates served in Bongo’s government.

Analysts believe that Bongo will likely easily win the election after the opposition failed to rally behind one candidate.

“Failure to agree on one candidate is a sign of a divided opposition. A string of opposition candidates will divide the opposition vote and likely hand Ali Bongo victory,” said Fabien Mbeng, a political analyst.

Bongo was first elected president in 2009 after the death of his father, Omar Bongo Ondimba, who had ruled the tiny oil-rich nation for more than 41 years.

He was reelected in 2016 for a second seven-year term in a poll that observers said was marred by violence.

In April, the Gabonese parliament amended the country’s constitution to reduce the president's term from seven to five years.

According to the electoral calendar, Gabonese will elect the president, legislators and local councils on the same day.
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