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Bongo son set for Gabon candidacy

Array

Ali-Ben Bongo's candidacy is likely to prove controversialThe son of Gabon’s late President Omar Bongo has been chosen by the ruling party to stand in the presidential election expected in late August.

The decision was announced on national TV by Gabonese Democratic Party’s deputy general secretary Angel Ondo.

Rights groups had argued that no member of the former government should stand again, and expressed particular concern over Mr Bongo’s son, Ali-Ben Bongo.

They accuse the ruling party of funding election campaigns with state money.

Election officials have recommended 30 August as the date for the next election.

Dynastic rule?

The death of 73-year-old Omar Bongo, who ran Gabon for more than 40 years, was announced in June.

As the government moved to fill the power vacuum, analysts speculated that his long-term successor would be his son, Ali-Ben, or his daughter, Pascaline, who had served as his chief of staff.

Mr Ondo ended that speculation by confirming the candidacy of Ali-Ben Bongo, who is the current defence minister.

“The political committee has decided by large consensus to list Ali-Ben Bongo as the Gabonese Democratic Party’s (PDG) candidate in the presidential election,” he said.

The 50-year-old’s nomination is due to be formally ratified by a party congress later this week.

Rights groups have expressed fears of a dynastic rule in the oil-rich nation.

They have long accused the Bongo family of ruling the country as their private property.

Omar Bongo amassed a vast fortune during his years in office – but most of the 1.4 million people in Gabon live in poverty.

He maintained close economic and political links with former colonial power France but French prosecutors launched an investigation into Mr Bongo’s wealth in the months before his death.

He was accused of embezzling oil revenues and bribery.

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