Thursday, August 13, 2009

So Why Am I Telling You This? Shh, Just Look At The Pictures

The small African country of Gabon is preparing for its first real democratic election in decades following the death of President Omar Bongo, who led the country for 41 years. 23 candidates are slated to be on the ballot, including the late President's son, Defense Minister Ali Ben Bongo. Some candidates have been calling for a delay of the August 30 election date citing irregularities in voter registration records.

Gabon, which is about 200 times the size of Manhattan but roughly equivalent in population, became independent from France in 1960 and has since retained close ties with its former colonial rulers. Gabon's capital city is Libreville. Tho country produces 273,000 barrels of oil a day, which makes up more than a third of the nation's economy and helped finance Mr. Bongo's purchase of dozens of luxury properties in France.

Something to think about: If the U.S. weans itself off fossil fuels, the petro-dollars dry up and all the good people of Gabon wallow in extreme poverty. All the eco-friendly do-gooder greenies might as well call for Gabonese genocide. Just kidding. Well, half kidding.

The Guardian did a stunning photographic retrospective on Bongo (whose name, for me, summons notions of a certain blue Muppet with a long hook nose. If you're a bit older, it may remind you of a certain Ronald Reagan movie, too.)

Omar Bongo obituary: President Omar Bongo, Visits the Elysee 1970
Bongo in Paris, 1970. (Photograph: Christian Simonpietri/Corbis)

Omar Bongo obituary: President Omar Bongo 1975
Bongo at a conference in Lima, Peru, 1975. (Photograph: Diego Goldberg/Corbis)

Omar Bongo obituary: Mobutu Sese Seko and Omar Bongo 1979
Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire and Bongo share a joke during the sixth
Franco-African summit in Kigali, Rwanda, 1979. (Photograph: Richard

Omar Bongo obituary: President Jacques Chirac and President Omar Bongo 1995
With Jacques Chirac in 1995. (Philippe Wojazer/Reuters)

File:Omar Bongo with George Bush May 26 2004-02.jpg
Bongo at the White House, 2004. (White House file photo)

Omar Bongo obituary: President Omar Bongo Paris 2006
Bongo in Paris, 2006. (Photograph: Oliver Weiken/EPA)

AFP Photo

Well Craig over at Puntabulous had someone come in and give a talk about Iceland, so I thought, "Why not Gabon? It's bigger than Iceland and even has a President who takes a good picture."

Oh, this just in: Violent clashes have broken out in Gabon between police and several thousand demonstrators calling for presidential candidate Ali Ben Bongo to resign from the cabinet as defence minister...

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