Freedom in Gabon

The Political Context, State of Democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law

Capital: Libreville

Population: 2,025,137     

GDP 2017 (US$ million): 14,622.88 

Language: French

Political Regime Type: Unitary-Dominant Party Presidential Republic

President: Ali Bongo Ondimba

Current Political Context

  • The opposition presidential candidate Jean Ping still contests the results of the August 2016 elections; in response the government denied him the right to leave the country
  • Legislative elections were postponed until April 2018
  • State of Democracy
  • The government is mainly dominated by the Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG) and the Bongo family who have held power since 1967
  • Observers of the recent elections have noted numerous irregularities including a very questionably high voter turnout
  • PDG party has 114 of 120 seats in the National Assembly

State of Rule of Law

  • The ICC has continued its preliminary examination into whether alleged crimes committed after May 2016 including in the presidential election, could amount to crimes and whether there was enough criteria to open an investigation

State of Human Rights

  • Media laws like the new Communications Code has been criticised by many journalists for being vague and very broad in its provision, giving the government leeway to restrict freedom of expression
  • Authorities suspended the activities of the main teachers’ union due to strikes that occurred during October 2016
  • Arbitrary arrests and detentions of activists, journalists, and people in political oppositions have occurred regularly
  • Steps have been taken to investigate the alleged abuses committed by Gabonese peacekeeping force in the Central African Republic

Freedom House Democracy Index Score (2018): 23/100