DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — A look at Gabon, the Central West African country where the government has retained power after putting down an attempted coup on Monday.
LARGE OIL PRODUCER: Gabon is the third largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa, behind Nigeria and Angola. More than 90 percent of Gabon’s oil production is exported, mainly to the United States, according to the World Energy Council. Gabon’s wealth is far from evenly distributed. About a third of the population, estimated to be below 2 million people, live below the poverty line, according to the World Bank.
FAMILY DYNASTY: Former leader Omar Bongo, who ruled the nation from 1967 until his 2009 death, was viewed by many as the father of the nation. His time in power, though, was dogged by allegations of corruption and the use of oil profits for personal luxuries, including properties in several European and American cities, and lavish trips abroad. His son, Ali Bongo Ondimba, 59, won a special presidential election that was held a few months after his father’s death. The opposition claimed it was rigged. Bongo’s daughter, Malika Bongo Ondimba is a politician active in her father’s ruling party, fueling speculation that she may try to succeed her father as president when his term ends in 2022.
PROTESTS: In 2016, protesters took to the streets of the capital, Libreville, and the Parliament building was burned after Bongo’s opponent, Jean Ping, accused Bongo of vote-rigging. The European Union, the United States, and France also expressed concerns about some of the results. Gabon’s constitutional court later upheld Bongo’s victory. The central African nation, located on the Atlantic Ocean, became independent from France in 1960. The country is rich in natural resources with forests covering 85 percent of its territory.
POOR POPULATION: Despite its rich resources, much of Gabon’s population is relatively poor. It is ranked 110 out of 189 countries on the Human Development Index, according to the United Nations Development Program. Much of the population lives in the capital, Libreville, and economic capital Port Gentil, with a life expectancy of 66 years, according to the World Bank. One in two Gabonese citizens is under the age of 20, according to the World Bank.