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Introduction: Until recently, only two autocratic presidents had ruled Gabon since its independence from France in 1960. The recent president of Gabon, El Hadj Omar BONGO Ondimba - one of the longest-serving heads of state in the world - had dominated the country's political scene for four decades. President BONGO introduced a nominal multiparty system and a new constitution in the early 1990s. However, allegations of electoral fraud during local elections in 2002-03 and the presidential elections in 2005 exposed the weaknesses of formal political structures in Gabon. President BONGO died in June 2009. New elections in August 2009 brought Ali Ben BONGO,...

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History: Over the last 7 centuries, Bantu ethnic groups arrived in the area from several directions to escape enemies or find new land. In the process they displaced other groups in the region, among them the pygmies who now inhabit the jungle in the country's far east. Gabon's first European visitors were Portuguese traders who arrived in the 15th century. They named the area after the Portuguese word ...

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International Relations: Former President Omar Bongo often acted as a mediator in regional disputes, and enjoyed a high degree of influence on regional issues. It remains to be seen whether Gabon will continue to maintain such regional influence under the new government. Gabon currently has a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council (2010-2011).

Gabon has traditional ties with Congo-Brazzaville, which has a number of ethnic groups in common with Gabon.

In February 2003, tensions resurfaced between Gabon and neighbouring Equatorial Guinea over sovereignty of islands in the oil-rich off-shore waters, a source of friction ...

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