On 22 August, President Ali Bongo reshuffled his cabinet and introduced opposition politicians to the government. Nonetheless, no major ministries were handed over, mainly honorific posts and the Vice-Presidency. This followed a ‘national dialogue’ that took place between March and May 2017 and had a large turnout of political parties and civil society groups. Leading opposition figures like Ping – who claimed to be the rightful winner of the August 2016 disputed presidential election – did not take part in the dialogue and will continue intermittent protests.
Impact on country risk
Even though the ICC (International Criminal Court) investigated human rights abuses during the disputed 2016 election period, chances of criminal charges against either party have been ruled out. With the dialogue and the inclusion of opposition members in the government, president Bongo is dodging the possible imposition of EU sanctions against him and his allies as well. Despite prolonged lobbying by opposition leader Ping and his allies, the EU is not very likely to take actions anymore. What’s more, the IMF approved a 642 million US dollar support programme in June 2017 which is likely to catalyse more international support and boost investor confidence, while it should help depressurise the deteriorated public finances. Indeed, the oil-exporting country has been going through a crisis following the fall in international oil prices. In the near term, opposition protests and public sector strikes will further intensify, albeit they are unlikely to topple Bongo before his term ends in 2023 as he still enjoys strong military backing.
Analyst: Louise Van Cauwenbergh, email@example.com