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Biography of Omar BONGO

Gabon > Politics : Omar BONGO

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Born on 30/12/1935 (format : day/month/year)

Biography :

El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba (born Albert-Bernard Bongo) on 30 December 1935 - died June 8, 2009), in Barcelona . He  became President of Gabon in 1967.He was  the Africa's longest serving leader.

He was just 31 and the world's youngest president at the time. Following the February 2005 death of Togolese president Gnassingbé Eyadéma, he became Africa's longest serving ruler.


The youngest in a family of twelve children, Bongo was born on 30 December 1935 in Lewai, a town of the Haut-Ogooué province in southeastern Gabon near the border with the Republic of the Congo. Lewai was renamed Bongoville in honour of Bongo's work to develop the town.
After his primary and secondary education in Brazzaville (then the capital of French Equatorial Africa), Bongo held a job at the Post and Telecommunications Public Services, before starting his military training. This training allowed him to serve as a sub-lieutenant and then as a lieutenant in the Air Force, successively in Brazzaville, Bangui and Fort Lamy (present-day N'djamena). Shortly after Gabon's independence in 1960, young Albert Bernard Bongo started his political career. He held a succession of positions under the country's first president, Léon Mba, initially working in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and eventually entering the government as a minister.
Bongo is currently married to Edith Lucie Sassou-Nguesso. She is the daughter of Congolese president Denis Sassou-Nguesso.
His first child, daughter Pascaline Mferri Bongo Ondimba was born 10 April 1956 in Franceville, Gabon. She was Foreign Minister of Gabon from, and is currently director of the presidential cabinet.
He was married to Patience Dabany. Together they have a son, Alain Bernard Bongo, and daughter Albertine Amissa Bongo. Ali-Ben served as Foreign Minister from 1989 to 1991, becoming Defence Minister in 1999.

Political career

He was elected vice president in March 1967, alongside Leon M'ba, and became president following the death of M'ba on November 28, 1967. Early in the 1970s (it has been reported as both 1970 and 1973), Bongo converted to Islam, taking the name Omar Bongo. In 2003 he added Ondimba as his surname.
In the early 1990s, Bongo ended the one-party domination of the Gabonese Democratic Party and allowed multi-party elections in response to popular demand. These elections were held in 1993 and 1998; Bongo won both times, taking 51.2% and 66.88% of the vote respectively. Despite the reforms, it is generally thought that a non-independent judiciary and widespread corruption and patronage limited the ability of citizens to effectively change their government.
In 2003, the constitution was changed to eliminate any restrictions on the number of terms a president can serve, with Bongo's critics have accused him of intending to rule for life. Bongo announced his candidacy for the 2005 presidential election on October 1. On October 6 it was announced that the election would be held on November 27, although security forces would vote two days earlier.According to official results, Bongo won the election with a large majority of 79.2%.He was sworn in for another seven-year term on January 19, 2006.

President Bongo was  also Vice-President of the International Parliament for Safety and Peace, which is an International Organisation with volunteer diplomatic service.
Bongo is one of the wealthiest heads of state in the world, with this attributed primarily from the benefits of oil revenue and alleged corruption. In 2005, an investigation by the United States Senate Indian Affairs Committee into fundraising irregularities by lobbyist Jack Abramoff revealed that Abramoff had offered to arrange a meeting between U.S. President George W. Bush and Bongo for the sum of 9 million USD. Though it is unproven as to whether or not the exchange took place, Bush met with Bongo 10 months later in the Oval Office.
As of June 2007, Bongo, along with President Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Republic of the Congo, was being investigated by the French police due to claims that he has used millions of pounds of embezzled public funds to acquire lavish properties in France. He has been cited in recent years during French criminal inquiries into hundreds of millions of euros of illicit payments by Elf, the former French state-owned oil group.


Edith Lucie  Bongo,his wife and the daughter of Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso died on March 14, 2009 after a long illness in Morocco. She had been undergoing treatment for several months.She was a trained Pediatrician. It did not specify the cause of death or the nature of her illness.

The first lady, known for her elegance and her commitment to fighting AIDS, had not appeared in public for around three years. 

Edith Bongo, born on March 10 1964, married the veteran Gabonese leader in 1990, becoming his second wife. Bongo's first spouse, Josephine Nkama, pursued a career as a singer before returning to Gabon after several years abroad.

The Gabonese first lady helped create a forum roping in African first ladies to fight AIDS, one of the continent's scourges. She was also instrumental in founding associations for vulnerable children and the handicapped.


Last update : 04/04/2010

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