Early December, Gabon postponed legislative elections set for 27 December 2016 until 29 July 2017, stating a lack of financial funds for the organisation as a force majeure. This happened only a few months after the controversial re-election of President Ali Bongo, marked by ‘major anomalies’ according to a recent EU observers’ report.
Following the initial declaration of Bongo’s win in August, opposition supporters claim that up to 100 people died at the hands of security forces during demonstrations. Gabon’s constitutional court validated the election victory of President Ali Bongo, although the international community disapproved because of widespread allegations of fraud and human rights violations.
Members of the EU observers’ mission, together with some African Union and United Nations commissioners want to push for sanctions against senior figures of the Bongo regime or at least use the threat of sanctions to pressure Bongo into concessions and a national dialogue.
Impact on country risk
Over the past months, it became less likely for opposition leader Ping’s call for resistance to get large-scale hearing and even though some cities are still tense, calm has gradually returned. A new government was formed, not holding much opposition figures, and international relations started to gradually normalise again.
Nevertheless, the EU observers’ report and recent postponement of legislative polls have raised the likelihood for international sanctions to be slapped on Bongo and his allies, forming a possible deterrent for foreign investments as well. In January, the country is organising the African Cup of Nations football tournament which puts important pressure on the state budget.
The fiscal position is moreover deeply affected by low oil export returns and deteriorating terms on international financial markets. The inability to meet public wage demands has moreover been driving long strikes by civil servants and could further paralyse government business.
Taking into consideration the weakening public finances and rising political instability, the outlook for Gabon has worsened. In this context, Credendo might have to consider downgrading the country’s medium- to long-term political risk classification from category 5 to 6.
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Louise Van Cauwenbergh – Credendo Grroup