The draft law revising the constitution of Gabon was adopted by the government on Friday, 18 December 2020. If this bill were to be ratified by the National Assembly, then the interim of the Head of State, in case of vacancy of power, will be ensured by the President of the Senate, that of the National Assembly and the Minister of Defence. This triumvirate worries the opposition, which does not understand why the Prime Minister, leader of the government, is being dismissed. In addition, the issue of lifetime immunity for the President of the Republic remains a concern that hides many things.
Article 13 in force of the Constitution of Gabon makes the President of the Senate the President of the Republic acting in the event of a vacancy in power. The two major axes of the revision of the Constitution proposed by the government, the seventh since 1991, concern precisely the interim of the President of the Republic and the immunity for life of the Head of State. The secretary of the ruling party, the Democratic Party of Gabon (CEO), Michel Philipe Nze, sees in this constitutional revision a way to avoid the scenario of a country without a head of state when the Gabonese President, Ali Bongo, had a Stroke (CVA) in October 2018 in Saudi Arabia. “This reform is entirely appropriate because it responds to a situation that Gabon has experienced, which could have led to a blockage of the functioning of the institutions.” Does it indicate. So, the said bill takes into account the notion of “temporary unavailability” which assumes that, as soon as the President of the Republic is incaple to lead the country, it is the trio designated that will provide the interim.
A very light argument in the eyes of the former President of the National Assembly of Gabon, from January 1997 to March 2016, Guy Nzouba Ndama, who finds the reform inadequate and sneaky. “A Minister of Defence climbs to the State Summit alongside the two Speakers of Parliament… What is behind this little calculation that puts the Prime Minister aside?” In his view, the government seems to have an unhealthy intention because it intends to use the military to stifle any possibility of a challenge, which is a huge democratic setback.
Moreover, if the President of the Republic enjoys immunity for life, which implies the amendment of Article 78 of the Constitution, then it is obvious that he can never be prosecuted, judged, detained or sought for any wrongdoing committed in the course of their duties.