Gabon’s opposition unlikely to replicate 2016 performance in legislative election

Gabon’s opposition unlikely to replicate 2016 performance in legislative election

Legislative elections for Gabon’s 120-person National Assembly will be held today after having been twice postponed to enable political dialogue

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Photo: Reuters/Erauds Wilfried Obangome

Legislative elections for Gabon’s 120-person National Assembly will be held today after having been twice postponed to enable political dialogue and raise necessary funds.

Following the razor-thin margin by which incumbent Ali Bongo won the 2016 presidential election, the 50-year Bongo dynasty felt the need to reinforce the power of its Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG). Since then, Bongo has passed sweeping constitutional and electoral reforms, removing term limits and further centralising power in the presidency.

Today’s poll will serve as an important gauge for public dissatisfaction with the incumbent regime. The opposition has been unable to sustain political momentum from its electoral performance two years ago; there have been few mass protests since the 2016 demonstrations, which ended in violent government crackdowns that are still fresh in the minds of many voters.

Gabon’s opposition parties are likely to win a number of seats back from the PDG, though they are also likely to undershoot their performance in 2016. Given Bongo’s efforts to consolidate power and the opposition’s inability to outwardly harness public dissatisfaction, today’s elections could be marred by indifference from the electorate.

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