The History of The French Republic of Gabon
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The History of The French Republic of Gabon

The French republic of Gabon is an independent state in West Central Africa. Their official language is French and predominantly Christians.

The French republic of Gabon is an independent state in West Central Africa. Gabon is bordered on the North by Cameroon, on the North West by Equatorial Guinea, on the East and South by the Republic of Congo and on the West by the Atlantic ocean. The largest city and capital of Gabon is Libreville. Gabon has a total area of 267,667 sq km with a coastline of 885 km and the highest point is mount Iboundji at 972 meters high. With a Population 1,424,906 (2006 estimate), Gabon is highly rich in mineral resources. The country has deposits of uranium, manganese, and petroleum, all of which are being exploited; large deposits of iron ore, considered among the richest in the world, have also been found, lead and silver ores have been discovered. Gabon also has valuable forest resources. Their official language is French and predominantly Christians. The Gabonese is of diverse ethnic orientations of mostly the Bantu speaking background. They have about 40 ethnic groups mostly made up of Mpongwe, Punu, Fang and M’Bete. . Pygmies are believed to have been the original inhabitants of the country, but only a few thousand remain. The country survives on its oil generated revenues and other minerals resources.

HistoryArchaeological findings confirm that there were early settlements of the Stone Age in the area but little is known about them. The Mpomgwe people settled in the present Gabon in around the 13th Century and their first contact with the Portuguese was in the 1470s. Gabon was a major front for early slave trade in the area and the Mpongwe ruler brokered and agreement with the French people to settle in Gabon in 1839. Libreville was founded a decade later by freed slaves. Over the next several years the French extended their rule inland, and in 1866 they appointed a governor to Gabon, which was then attached to the French Congo; it became part of French Equatorial Africa in 1910. French influence waxed stronger in Gabon and its neighbouring African countries.

In 1946 Gabon became an overseas territory of France immediately after the World War II. In 1957 the first Gabonese government council was formed with Leon Mba as the president of the council in 1958 when Gabon was voted to be an autonomous republic in the French Community of African states. The country declared its independence on August 17, 1960 and in 1961 Mba was also elected as president. In 1964 Mba was toppled by a military coup which was later countered by French troops who supported the government of Mba and restored him back to power and he was re elected president in 1967.

Mba died in 1967 and was succeeded by his vice Albert Bernard Bongo who later adopted an Islamic first name ‘Omar’. President Omar Bongo was re elected president in 1973. He was also re elected to a seven-year term in 1979 and another in 1986. This time the French has loosened their ties with their African colonies and President Omar Bongo faced great oppositions in the 1990s. The crises led to the formalization of a multi party system and in December 1993 Omar Bongo won the multi party elections and retained the presidency under the multi party new constitution.

Other political parties accused the president of election fraud and the resultant effect was the formation of opposition’s alternate government by Paul Abessole called the High Council of the Republic which was later renamed the High Council for Resistance. In August 1994 the opposition agreed to participate in a transitional coalition government until new legislative elections could be held. Again in 1996, the ruling party of President Umar Bongo won the elections again and he was re elected in December 1998 to another seven-year term. In November 2005, he still won again.

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Comments (1)

Illuminating as always.

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