phase: Preliminary Examinations, Subject Matter Jurisdiction Assessement
The Preliminary Examination of the Situation in Gabon focuses on alleged atrocity crimes committed during a political crisis which involved Gabonese government forces and protest groups (opposition political parties and citizens). The political crisis occurred from May 2016 to the present.
In 1960, Gabon gained independence from France, and Leon Mba became the first president. In 1967, Albert Bernard Bongo (after converting to Islam, he changed his name to Omar Bongo) was elected president. In 1993, in Gabon’s first multi-party democratic elections, President Bongo was elected. Despite criticism from opposition parties, President Bongo was re-elected in 1998 and in 2005. In 2009, after President Bongo’s death, his son Ali Ben Bongo was elected president, and Gabonese government forces and protesters clashed over the election results.
In August 2016, President Ali Ben Bongo was re-elected president over opposition candidate, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean Ping. Opposition parties claimed that the election process was fraudulent. On August 27, 2016, the presidential election was held. The election results were scheduled to be announced on August 30 but were announced on August 31. According to the National Electoral Commission, there was a national electoral turnout of 59.5%, and President Bongo won 49.8% of the vote and Jean Ping won 48.2% of the vote. President Bongo’s home province Haut-Ogooué was the last province to be counted, and his home province reported a provincial electoral turnout of 99.93% with President Bongo winning 95.46% of the vote. Again, Gabonese government forces and protesters clashed over the election results. Protesters set fire to Gabonese National Parliament building. Gabonese government forces bombed the opposition’s headquarters. On September 23, 2016, despite the EU’s questioning of the results, the Constitutional Court upheld the results.
Gabon is a State Party to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and ratified the Rome Statute on September 20, 2000. On September 29, 2016, after receiving a referral (dated September 20, 2016) from the government of Gabon of alleged atrocity crimes committed on its territory, the ICC Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) opened a preliminary examination.
As of November 2016, the preliminary examination of Gabon is in the subject-matter jurisdiction assessment phase.
For more information on the preliminary examination in Gabon, please visit the ICC page.