afrol News, 15 March - President Ali Bongo of Gabon, who "inherited" the presidency from his father in 2009, now also followed late Omar Bongo's footsteps as freshly elected leader of the ruling Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG). The PDG has been in power since its establishment.
The ruling PDG this weekend has celebrated its tenth party congress in Libreville. The first post on the programme was to elect the party's new leader.
According to a statement issued by the party, "the former Vice-President of the PDG, the Head of State and President of the Republic, has been unanimously elected President of the PDG, according to the internal rules of this political entity." The person in question is Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba.
Since the death of the current President's father, President Omar Bongo, in June 2009, the party has had an interim leader. Since the ascension of Mr Bongo jr to the Gabonese presidency, it has been clear he would be elected the party's leader.
But immediately after his father's death, this was still not clear. Ali Bongo, thus Defence Minister, was unpopular within party ranks, according to many reports from Gabon at the time. His playboy past had somewhat discredited him and many party members felt it was time for new leaders from outside the Bongo family.
Therefore, no less than ten applicants to become the PDG's official candidate in the August 2009 presidential elections stood forward. The Bongo family however succeeded in gathering enough support for Bongo jr in what has been described as a non-transparent process within the PDG.
Mr Bongo, according to official results, won the presidential election with 42 percent of the vote.
The PDG has held power, first as the sole legal party, since it was established by Omar Bongo in 1968. In 1990, multi-party elections were introduced in Gabon, but all have been won by the PDG. The opposition at each juncture has claimed widespread fraud, which is sustained by some observers.
With his unsurprising election to lead the PDG, Mr Bongo has assured yet another step to consolidate his power in Gabon. Indeed, the party leader was so sure of his victory that he left on a scheduled trip to Morocco shortly after his election, leaving the party congress to go on without its new president.
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