Gabon’s 2016 election returned President Ali Bongo to office for a seven-year term while also bringing violence to the streets of Libreville.
It left questions over the legitimacy of Bongo’s defeat of opposition candidate Jean Ping, and bitter divisions that his efforts at national dialogue ahead of postponed parliamentary elections failed to resolve. It also brought disillusionment with the democratic process, according to the newly released results of a poll from social researchers at Afrobarometer in Ghana.
Their team in Gabon, led by the Centre d’Etudes et de Recherche en Géosciences Politiques et Prospective (CERGEP), interviewed 1,200 adult citizens in November 2017. Just one in six Gabonese say they trust the electoral commission. Less than one in five say the 2016 presidential election was free and fair, and most of them think that proposed electoral reforms will never be implemented.
Four in 10 say they fear election-related intimidation and violence, and 85 percent say the government is doing a poor job of preventing it. More than 80 percent say they have to be careful how they vote in elections, what they say about politics and which political organizations they join.
“After years of delays, Gabon’s legislative election is currently scheduled for October 2018,” Afrobarometer said. “Given these public perceptions, and pessimism about the likelihood of improvements, it is questionable how freely Gabonese will be able to make their voices heard.”
Gabon saw the sharpest one-year decline of any in the world on measures of political rights and civil liberties, according to the Freedom in the World 2018 report released in January by Freedom House.
To see the complete Afrobarometer survey results, check this link.
Image: Presidency of Gabon file