Ali Bongo Ondimba

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Ali Bongo Ondimba
Ali Bongo Ondimba, 2012.jpg
3rd President of Gabon
Assumed office
16 October 2009
Prime Minister Paul Biyoghé Mba
Raymond Ndong Sima
Daniel Ona Ondo
Emmanuel Issoze-Ngondet
Julien Nkoghe Bekale
Vice President Pierre-Claver Maganga Moussavou
Preceded by Rose Francine Rogombé (Acting)
Personal details
Born
Alain Bernard Bongo

(1959-02-09) 9 February 1959 (age 60)
Brazzaville, French Equatorial Africa (now Congo-Brazzaville)
Political party PDG
Spouse(s) Sylvia Valentin
ChildrenMalika
Noureddin
Jalil
Bilal
ResidencePresidential Palace
Libreville, Gabon
Alma mater Pantheon-Sorbonne University

Ali Bongo Ondimba (born Alain Bernard Bongo; 9 February 1959), [1] sometimes known as Ali Bongo, is a Gabonese politician who has been President of Gabon since October 2009.

Gabon country in Africa

Gabon, officially the Gabonese Republic, is a country on the west coast of Central Africa. Located on the equator, Gabon is bordered by Equatorial Guinea to the northwest, Cameroon to the north, the Republic of the Congo on the east and south, and the Gulf of Guinea to the west. It has an area of nearly 270,000 square kilometres (100,000 sq mi) and its population is estimated at 2 million people. Its capital and largest city is Libreville.

Contents

Ali Bongo is the son of Omar Bongo, who was President of Gabon from 1967 until his death in 2009. During his father's presidency, he was Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1989 to 1991 and represented Bongoville as a Deputy in the National Assembly from 1991 to 1999; subsequently he was Minister of Defense from 1999 to 2009. Following his father's death after 41 years in power, he was first elected in the August 2009 presidential election. [2] He was re-elected in August 2016, in elections marred by numerous irregularities, arrests, human rights violations and post-election violence. [3] [4] Bongo is also President of the Gabonese Democratic Party.

Omar Bongo President of Gabon

El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba was a Gabonese dictator under French control who was President of Gabon for 42 years, from 1967 until his death in 2009. Omar Bongo was promoted to key positions as a young official under Gabon's first President Léon M'ba in the 1960s, before being elected Vice-President in his own right in 1966. In 1967, he succeeded M'ba to become the second Gabon President, upon the latter's death.

Bongoville is a town in south eastern Gabon, lying east of Franceville. It was known as Lewai until its renaming for President Omar Bongo, who was born in what was then a village but was greatly enlarged under his presidency. It lies just west of the Bateke Plateau and is home to Stade de Bongoville, a 2,500-capacity stadium where the city's AC Bongoville football club plays its home games.

National Assembly of Gabon lower house of Gabons parliament

The National Assembly is the lower house of the Parliament of Gabon. It has 120 members, 111 members elected for a five-year term in single-seat constituencies and 9 members appointed by the President.

Early life and career

Birth

Ali Bongo was born Alain Bernard Bongo in Brazzaville, [1] as the son of Albert-Bernard Bongo (later Omar Bongo Ondimba) and Josephine Kama (later Patience Dabany). His mother was 15 years old at the time of his birth. He was conceived 18 months before Albert-Bernard's marriage and there have been rumors of him being Bongo's adopted son, [5] [ unreliable source? ] a claim that he dismisses. [6]

Brazzaville Place in Republic of the Congo

Brazzaville is the capital and largest city of the Republic of the Congo. Constituting the financial and administrative centre of the country, it is located on the north side of the Congo River, opposite Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. The population of the capital is estimated to exceed 1.8 million residents, comprising more than a third of the national populace, 40% of whom are employed in non-agricultural professions. During World War II, Brazzaville was also the capital of Free France between 1940 and 1942.

Patience Marie Josephine Kama Dabany, also known by the names Marie Joséphine Kama and Josephine Bongo, is a Gabonese singer and musician. Dabany served as the First Lady of Gabon from 1967 to 1987. For nearly 30 years she was married to Omar Bongo Ondimba, who was President of Gabon from 1967 to 2009. After their divorce, she successfully pursued a career in music. She is the mother of the current President of Gabon, Ali Bongo Ondimba.

Education and music career

Bongo was educated at a private school in Neuilly, France, and then studied law at the Sorbonne [7] . In 1977, he released a funk album, A Brand New Man, produced by Charles Bobbit [7] .

Neuilly is a common place name in France, deriving from the male given name Nobilis or Novellius. It may refer to:

France Republic with mainland in Europe and numerous oversea territories

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

Sorbonne historical monument

The Sorbonne is a building in the Latin Quarter of Paris which was the historical house of the former University of Paris. Today, it houses part or all of several higher education and research institutions such as Panthéon-Sorbonne University, Sorbonne Nouvelle University, Paris Descartes University, École pratique des hautes études, and Sorbonne University.

Early political career

After graduating from his law course, he entered politics, joining the Gabonese Democratic Party (French: Parti Démocratique Gabonais, abbreviated PDG) in 1981; he was elected to the PDG Central Committee at the party's Third Extraordinary Congress in March 1983. Subsequently, he was his father's Personal Representative to the PDG and in that capacity he entered the PDG Political Bureau in 1984. He was then elected to the Political Bureau at an ordinary party congress in September 1986. [8]

Gabonese Democratic Party ruling and dominant political party of Gabon

The Gabonese Democratic Party, is the ruling and dominant political party of Gabon. Between 1968 and 1990 it was the sole legal party.

Bongo held the post of High Personal Representative of the President of the Republic from 1987 to 1989. [1] In 1989, his father appointed him to the government as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, [1] [9] replacing Martin Bongo. [9] He was considered a reformist within the ruling PDG in the early 1990s. [6] [10] In the 1990 parliamentary election (the first election after the introduction of multiparty politics), he was elected to the National Assembly as a PDG candidate in Haut-Ogooué Province. [1] After two years as Foreign Minister, a 1991 constitutional amendment setting a minimum age of 35 for ministers resulted in his departure from the government. [6]

A foreign minister or minister of foreign affairs is generally a cabinet minister in charge of a state's foreign policy and relations.

Martin Bongo Gabonese politician

Martin Bongo is a Gabon political figure and diplomat. He was the Foreign Minister of Gabon from 1976 to 1989.

Haut-Ogooué Province Province in Gabon

Haut-Ogooué is the southeastern-most of Gabon's nine provinces. It is named after the Ogooué River. It covers an area of 36,547 km². The provincial capital is Franceville. One of its primary industries is mining, with manganese, gold and uranium being found in the region. The uranium-bearing mineral Francevillite takes its name from the primary city. It is the historical home of three cultures, the Obamba, Ndzabi and Téké. Like many regions in Africa, more traditional uses of the land have given way to rural migration to the larger cities. In August 2006, its soccer club won the Gabon Independence Cup.

Following his departure from the government, Bongo took up his seat as a Deputy in the National Assembly in 1991. [8] In February 1992, [11] he organized a visit by American pop singer Michael Jackson to Gabon. [12]

Bongo became President of the Higher Council of Islamic Affairs of Gabon (Conseil supérieur des affaires islamiques du Gabon, CSAIG) in 1996. [1] Prior to the December 1996 parliamentary election, a supporter of Defense Minister Idriss Ngari challenged Bongo for the PDG nomination to his parliamentary seat, but Bongo was successful in winning the nomination and retaining the seat. In surviving that challenge, he benefited from the assistance of his maternal uncle Jean-Boniface Assélé, one of his key political allies. [13] After over seven years as a Deputy, [8] Bongo was appointed to the government as Minister of National Defense on 25 January 1999. [14]

In the December 2001 parliamentary election, Bongo was elected to the National Assembly as a PDG candidate in Haut-Ogooué Province. [1] At the PDG's Eighth Ordinary Congress in July 2003, he was elected as a Vice-President of the PDG. [8] During the 2005 presidential election, he worked on his father's re-election campaign as Coordinator-General of Youth. [15] Following that election, he was promoted to the rank of Minister of State on 21 January 2006, while retaining the defense portfolio. [14]

Bongo was re-elected to the National Assembly in the December 2006 parliamentary election as a PDG candidate in Haut-Ogooué Province. [16] He retained his post as Minister of State for National Defense after that election, although he was subsequently reduced to the rank of ordinary Minister on 28 December 2007. [14] [17] At the PDG's Ninth Ordinary Congress in September 2008, he was re-elected as a Vice-President of the PDG. [8]

Election and presidency

Omar Bongo died at a Spanish hospital on 8 June 2009. Ali Bongo appeared on television that night to call "for calm and serenity of heart and reverence to preserve the unity and peace so dear to our late father". [18]

Having been appointed to key positions by his father, it was widely considered likely that he would emerge as his father's successor following the latter's death in June 2009. [19] [20] Some press reports predicted a power struggle, however, suggesting that a "fierce rivalry" existed between Bongo and his sister Pascaline, who was Director of the Presidential Cabinet. The degree of support for Ali Bongo within the PDG leadership was also questioned in the press, and it was argued that many Gabonese "see him as a spoilt child, born in Congo-Brazzaville, brought up in France, hardly able to speak indigenous languages and with the appearance of a hip hop star". [21]

Bongo was one of ten candidates who submitted applications to become the PDG's candidate in the early presidential election, scheduled for 30 August 2009. [22] PDG Deputy Secretary-General Angel Ondo announced on 16 July that the party leadership had chosen Bongo by consensus as the PDG candidate, although this decision still needed to be formally confirmed at a party congress. [2] [23] An extraordinary PDG congress accordingly designated Bongo as the party's candidate on 19 July. On that occasion, he thanked delegates for their choice, saying he was "aware of the legitimate concerns" of the people; he vowed to battle corruption and "redistribute the proceeds of economic growth" as President. [24]

Despite standing as a presidential candidate, Bongo was retained as Minister of Defense in the government appointed on 22 July 2009. [25] Rogombé urged calm and called for the candidates to be "worthy" of the votes they would receive. [26] The opposition strongly protested Bongo's continued inclusion in the government. After Interim President Rose Francine Rogombé said that Bongo would be replaced so that all candidates would be on an equal footing for the election, Interior Minister Jean-François Ndongou was appointed to take over from Bongo as Minister of Defense in an interim capacity when the election campaign officially began on 15 August 2009. [27]

A few days after the election on 30 August 2009, it was announced that he had won the election with 42% of the vote, and that result was promptly confirmed by the Constitutional Court. The opposition rejected the official results, and riots broke out in Gabon's second largest city, Port-Gentil. [3] In response to allegations of fraud, the Constitutional Court conducted a recount before again declaring Bongo the winner with 41.79% of the vote on 12 October 2009; he was then sworn in as President on 16 October. Various African presidents were present for the ceremony. Bongo expressed a commitment to justice and the fight against corruption at the ceremony and said that fast action was needed to "give back confidence and promote the emergence of new hope". He also alluded to his father's governing philosophy of preserving stability through regional, tribal, and political balance in the allocation of power, while also stressing that "excellence, competence and work" were even more important than "geographical and political considerations". Later in the day, he announced the reappointment of Paul Biyoghe Mba as Prime Minister; he made the announcement personally "to underline the importance of this moment". According to Bongo, Biyoghe Mba had the necessary experience and managerial competence "to lead us through the next stage", and he said work would start "immediately". [28]

The composition of Biyoghe Mba's new government was announced on 17 October; [29] it was reduced to only 30 ministers, thereby fulfilling Bongo's campaign promise to reduce the size of the government and thereby reduce expenses. The government was also mostly composed of new faces, including many technocrats, although a few key ministers, such as Paul Toungui (Foreign Minister), Jean-François Ndongou (Interior Minister), and Laure Olga Gondjout (Communications Minister), retained their posts. [30]

Ali Bongo meets United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Ali Bongo Ondimba and Hillary Clinton.jpg
Ali Bongo meets United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

On 9 June 2011, Ali Bongo and Barack Obama met at the White House in a controversial visit. [31] [32] [33]

In 2012, clashes between the supporters of opposition figure André Mba Obame and police occurred in Libreville. [34]

On 17 August 2015, Bongo announced that he planned to donate everything he inherited from his father to the young people of Gabon, in the form of "a foundation for the youth and education". Explaining his decision, he said that "we are all heirs of Omar Bongo Ondimba" and that "no Gabonese must be left by the side of the road". [35]

On 24 October 2018, Bongo was hospitalized in Riyadh for an undisclosed illness. On 29 November 2018 Bongo was transferred to a military hospital in Rabat to continue recovery. [36] On 9 December 2018 it was reported by Gabon's Vice President Moussavou that Bongo suffered a stroke in Riyadh and has since left the hospital in Rabat and is currently recovering at a private residence in Rabat. [37] Since 24 October 2018 Bongo has not been seen in public and due to lack of evidence that he is either alive or dead many have speculated if he is truly alive or not. [38] On 1 January 2019 Gabon gave his first public address via a video posted to social media since falling ill in October 2018 putting to rest any rumors he was dead. [39]

On 7 January 2019, soldiers in Gabon launched a coup d’etat attempt. The coup attempt failed, and the government successfully re-asserted control. [40] [41]

Family

Ali Bongo married his first wife, the French-born Sylvia Najma Valentin, in 1989; [42] she is the daughter of Édouard Valentin, CEO of the Omnium gabonais d'assurances et de réassurances (OGAR) insurance company. Édouard Valentin's wife Evelyne works in the secretariat of the Presidency, [43] and Édouard is Chargé des affaires sociales at the Gabonese Employers Confederation (Confédération patronale gabonaise, CPG). [44] [45] In 1994 Ali Bongo married his second wife, American Inge Lynn Collins Bongo  [ fr ], from Los Angeles, California; at the time of Ali Bongo's election as President, Inge Bongo was living on food stamps in California, [46] and she later filed for divorce in 2015. [42]

He has four children—one daughter, Malika Bongo Ondimba, and three sons, Noureddin Bongo Valentin, Jalil Bongo Ondimba and Bilal Bongo—whom he and Sylvia adopted in 2002. [45] [47]

See also

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Political offices
Preceded by
Martin Bongo
Minister of Foreign Affairs
1989–1991
Succeeded by
Pascaline Bongo Ondimba
Preceded by
Rose Francine Rogombé
Acting
President of Gabon
2009–present
Incumbent