Gabon's President Ali Bongo looks on during the One Forest Summit at the Presidential Palace in Libreville on March 2, 2023. (Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN / AFP)

10 Things to Know about Gabon’s Former President

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Ali Bongo, the former president of Gabon who was removed from office, is a multifaceted individual.

For some, he is perceived as a privileged playboy prince who considered governing the oil-rich Gabon to be his inheritance; a former funk singer who assumed leadership after his father, maintaining the family’s nearly 56-year reign.

To others, he is viewed as a reformist – a person dedicated to expanding the country’s economy and elevating Gabon’s global standing through an ambitious environmental program.

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The 10 things to know about him are:

1- Ali Bongo was born Alain Bernard Bongo on February 9, 1959, in Brazzaville, Congo while his father was in exile

2- He studied law at the University of Paris and also attended the Sorbonne where he obtained a degree in political science

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3- Before becoming president, Ali Bongo held various government positions including Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and Minister of Defense.

4- Ali Bongo’s election victory in 2009 was marred by allegations of fraud and irregularities. The election was held after the death of his father who had ruled for 41 years

5- As president, Bongo initiated some reforms, including anti-corruption efforts and economic diversification projects, to reduce Gabon’s dependency on oil.

6- In 2018, Bongo suffered a stroke and was hospitalized in Saudi Arabia. His extended absence from the country led to speculations about his health and his ability to govern.

7- Bongo’s presidency has faced criticism for alleged human rights abuses and limitations of political freedom. Opposition power has often been accused of maintaining a tight grip on power

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8- Bongo ran for election in 2016 and won amid allegations of electoral irregularities. The election results were contested by the opposition.

9- Ali Bongo is part of a dynasty; his father Omar Bongo was one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders.

10- Ali Bongo has been involved in environmental conservation efforts. Gabon has established numerous National Parks with rich biodiversity

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