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Omar Bongo

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Omar Bongo

El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba (formerly Albert-Bernard Bongo) (born December 30, 1935) has been the President of Gabon since 1967.

Bongo was elected as vice president in March 1967, alongside the incumbent president, Léon M'ba, and became president himself upon the death of M'ba on November 28, 1967. He converted to Islam in 1973 and changed his name. In the early 1990s, he ended the one-party domination of the Gabonese Democratic Party and allowed multiparty elections in response to popular demand. These elections were held in 1993 and 1998; Bongo won both times, taking 51.2% and 66.6% of the vote respectively. Despite the reforms, it is generally thought that a non-independent judiciary and widespread corruption and patronage limit the ability of citizens to effectively change the government.

In 2003, the constitution was changed to eliminate any restrictions on the number of terms a president can serve; Bongo's critics have accused him of intending to rule for life. The next presidential election is scheduled for 2005.

Bongo's wife is the daughter of Congolese president Denis Sassou-Nguesso. Bongo is also one of the wealthiest heads of state in the world, and this is attributed mainly to oil revenue and corruption.

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Preceded by:
Léon M'ba
President of Gabon
1967–present
Succeeded by:
Incumbent

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