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Gabon presidential hopeful seeks to end bongo rule, wants more accountability

Jan 19, 2016 Jean Ping, a leading critic of Gabon’s President Ali Bongo, recently announced that he will be running for president in this year’s election.

Speaking during an interview, Ping, who is a former African Union chairman, said that he will make the presidency more accountable, institute term limits and invest in health, education and infrastructure.

“For me, the program should be about Gabon free from fear, Gabon free from need. Gabon free from fear is democracy. We establish democracy with everything you could possibly imagine. The independence of justice. The president should not be a semi-god anymore. The government should govern. The assembly must oppose in order to prevent the concentration of power in one man. Call him what you want, but it is him who has all the power, and this isn’t right. Gabon free from need, in other words, development, we are going to focus on infrastructure, particularly roads based on what I’ve seen in the country. For education, health, that is to say, human investment, I said it earlier, it is people. It is the people at the root of education, health, housing, water, electricity, etc,”

Gabon, which is one of Africa’s richest countries, has been classified as an upper middle-income nation by the World Bank.

However, sharp falls in oil prices have prompted the cabinet to trim budgets.

If elected, Ping said he will reinstate a 1991 constitution shortening the presidential mandate from seven to five years. He also promised to implement a two-round election system.

“It is a problem to just say that because of the terrible mismanagement of Ali, because a family has been in power for 50 years, because, because, because … In reality, we must enter modernity and people don’t want to keep on seeing the [same] system in place anymore, you understand, me or anyone else, people don’t want this anymore. And if you want to enter modernity, it has to be like that. We must limit the terms of all presidents. We must respect human rights. Justice must be independent,”

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