"Our commitment to the rule of law and democracy has always guided national politics in Gabon" said Ali Bongo Ondimba at the start of his speech. The President went on to say that since 1990, Gabon has solid institutions whose strength was proven in 2009 during a political transition that was hailed by the international community. Today, these institutions allow for a continuation in consolidating the rule of law, a pillar of the vision of Emerging Gabon through to 2025.
But for the Gabonese head of state, "if democracy and the rule of law are to mutually reinforce each other, then it is essential that political action in a country is based on the rules and laws that give it legitimacy".
Respect for the institutions and laws of the country
Referring to his speech before before a joint session of both Houses of Parliament, on September 12th last year, the President stated that political dialogue in a democracy must be comply with the institutions and laws of the country and those who represent them.
The president announced that this was his intention behind the reactivation of the National Council for Democracy - "the institutionally appropriate and intended arena for political debate and for democracy". This collaborative space for dialogue is open to a diversity of opinions, and is composed equally of representatives of the majority and of the opposition, but always chaired, since its creation, by an opposition member.
Adoption of reforms to strengthen the rule of law
Ali Bongo Ondimba also mentioned that, "the consolidation of the rule of law is based on an independent and impartial judiciary to ensure social peace and security, to protect the rights of the most vulnerable and to prevent extremism and intolerance".
As such, in order to have judiciary institutions that are "more consistent, more efficient, more transparent, more accessible and more equitable", the head of state has lead important reforms, such as:
- The adoption of laws to protect the rights of women and children, to fight against discrimination rooted in cultural behaviours, and the implementation of the new judicial system to protect minors which allows us to fight against child trafficking.
- The institutionalisation of "International Widow Day" to raise global awareness about the problems faced by widows, to protect them and to enforce their rights.
- The introduction of biometric registers to improve civil status and to enhance the transparency of elections.
- The fight against violations of the convention on international trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora (CITES) and other conventions for the protection of the environment and biodiversity.
- The reorganisation of the housing and land registry administrations in order to protect the right to land ownership.
The fight against corruption
A real obstacle to a country’s development, the President recalled that Gabon has ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption.
Several actions have been implemented by Gabon to face this challenge.
Gabon has a National Commission to fight against illicit enrichment which is already developing a national strategy to fight against corruption, with the support of the United Nations Development Programme and a National Agency for Financial Investigation.
In order to strengthen governance and accountability obligations, we participate in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). We have also revised procedures for procurement and conducted an audit of the public sector and the oil industry.
Since 2010, other actions have also helped in the fight against corruption, such as:
- A general audit of the civil service lead to the removal of thousands of redundant job roles.
- An overhaul of the Ministry of Housing to bring Gabon up to standard in terms of housing construction.
- Land reform aiming for performance improvements and the reduction of land registry and ownership procedures.
- A reform of the scholarship and internship systems.
Despite the strong desire to reform the country in order to intensify the development, the head of state, however, stated that, "the fight against corruption is a long-term undertaking that requires cooperation, based on dialogue with partners and national ownership".
This first high-level debate was a unique opportunity to discuss and agree on a common agenda for strengthening the rule of law. This meeting was to conclude with the adoption of a political declaration setting out the main principles of the rule of law and indicating their implementation at national and international levels. The President of Gabon, for whom peace, development and the rule of law are interrelated, concluded his speech by expressing Gabon's accession to the declaration to be adopted at the end of this debate.