The majority of Gabon’s residents are Christians, most Catholics. Traditional African religions (animism) are also widely used, especially in rural areas. Many who consider themselves Christians also practice traditional rites.
The authorities have been criticized for not seriously addressing the occurrence of ritual murders, often in children. The purpose is to access the victims’ hearts and more so that they are considered lucky.
The Muslims constitute a growing proportion of the population. Most Muslims come from other African countries but Omar Bongo (Gabon’s President 1967–2009), as well as his son and successor Ali Ben Bongo Ondimba (President 2009–), converted to Islam in the mid-1970s and then switched from French to Muslim first name (Albert-Bernard became Omar and Alain-Bernard became Ali Ben).
- Countryaah: Population statistics for 2020 and next 30 years in Gabon, covering demographics, population graphs, and official data for growth rates, population density, and death rates.
The son becomes Bongo’s right hand
President Bongo’s eldest son Noureddin Bongo Valentin is named Chief of Staff for the President’s Office, which means that he becomes the father’s right hand and handles all kinds of matters that lie on his desk. President Bongo’s former Chief of Staff Brice Laccruche Alihanga was fired in November after being suspected of being involved in a major corruption scandal. Laccruche’s influence had increased significantly following President Bongo’s stroke in 2018.
Forest and climate agreement with Norway
Gabon and Norway sign a new agreement, which means that Norway will compensate Gabon when the country refrains from cutting down forest and thus contributes to keeping greenhouse gas emissions down. The agreement is the first of its kind with a country in Africa. Norway will replace Gabon with $ 10 for every ton of carbon dioxide that is not released when it chooses to keep its forest. The agreement sets a maximum amount of $ 150 million over a ten-year period.
The government is reformed after scandal
As a result of the scandal surrounding timber smuggling (see May 2019), the government is being reformed. On behalf of President Bongo, Prime Minister Nkoghe Bekale appoints a smaller government capable of acting “honestly and ethically correct”. Nkoghe Bekale appoints 28 ministers, which is ten fewer than the outgoing minister. The number of female ministers increases from 6 to 11.
The Vice President is dismissed after smuggling
President Bongo dismisses his vice president as well as the minister responsible for forest issues. Both are suspected of being involved in log smuggling. It has been revealed that hundreds of containers containing a rare species of wood have disappeared after being seized by the authorities. The timber is believed to have been illegally shipped to Asia.
Bongo back in Gabon
President Bongo flies home to Libreville from Morocco, where he was cared for just over six weeks after being hit by a stroke during a visit to Saudi Arabia (see October 2018). On the same day, Bongo attends the installation ceremony for the new government.
New Old Government
A new government is announced via a video link from Morocco. New Prime Minister becomes Julien Nkoghe Bekale. Apart from the Foreign Minister, other ministers from the old government are still there. In Gabon, the prime minister has small powers and is not the head of government. President Bongo is both head of state and government.
“Military coup averted”
7 th of January
The President’s Office announces that a military coup attempt has been averted during the morning hours. Six commanders then took control of a state radio station in Libreville and announced that they were taking over power to “restore democracy.” The coup makers called for a popular uprising against Bongo. Two coup makers were killed when government forces entered the radio station and four insurgents were arrested. Lieutenant Ondo Obiang Kelly is appointed as the Cup Leader. The coup attempt is being averted and the situation in the country is under control, according to the presidential office. Armored vehicles were seen on the streets of Libreville in the morning, eyewitnesses say. The details of a coup attempt amaze observers as the military has so far been loyal to the Bongo family.