Gabon. According to Countryaah, President Ali Ben Bongo, who in 2009 succeeded his father Omar Bongo as head of state, met parties and organizations in January to discuss the economic and political situation. One theme concerned the possibility of using biometric technology, such as fingerprints, to identify voters in the future. The 2009 presidential election and the 2011 parliamentary elections were followed by unrest following accusations of cheating.
Prosecutors reported in September that up to 3,000 people received state salaries even though they lacked employment. Crime syndicate suspects are behind the scam with ghost employees. Over the past ten years, the oil-rich Gabon civil administration has swelled and doubled to 70,000 people. According to the non-profit organization Transparency International, which combats corruption, the government is suspected of buying political support by offering government jobs.
During the year there were reports of ritual murders, often on young girls who were found mutilated. Demonstrations were conducted and the president was urged to intervene more strongly against the custom. Some practitioners believe that human and animal body parts can have healing and magical powers. See DIGOPAUL for map and location of Gabon.
The country’s national park authority, the nature conservation group WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) and the World Wildlife Fund WWF raised an alarm in February about extensive poaching of forest elephants in Gabon. Almost half of Africa’s approximately 100,000 forest elephants are found in Gabon, which wants to invest more in tourism in line with falling oil production.