Gabon - Country history and economic development

1470. The Portuguese, French, Dutch, and English begin trading along Gabon's coast.

1839. First French settlement established.

1910. Gabon becomes part of French Equatorial Africa.

1958. Gabon granted internal autonomy by the French.

1960. Gabon is formally proclaimed an independent nation, with Leon M'Ba as prime minister.

1961. M'Ba is elected president and heads a government of National Unity with his opponent, Jean Hilaire Aubame, serving as foreign minister.

1963. Aubame is fired from his position in the Department of Foreign Affairs.

1964. Aubame leads a successful coup; French troops respond to M'Ba's appeal, intervene, and restore him to office. Aubame is sentenced to 10 years in prison.

1967. M'Ba is reelected president but dies a few months later. Vice-President Albert Bernard (later Omar) Bongo succeeds M'Ba as president.

1968. Parti Democratique Gabonais (PDG) is proclaimed as the sole legal political party in the country.

1973. Bongo is reelected president.

1979. As the only candidate in the national presidential elections, Bongo is reelected for a second 7-year term.

1980. In national, municipal, and legislative elections, independents are permitted to run against official candidates.

1981. Over 10,000 Cameroonians are expelled from Gabon following a riot against a Gabonese soccer team at Douala, Cameroon.

1982. Members of the opposition Mouvement pour le Redressement National (MORENA) are arrested for insulting the president and are sentenced to harsh prison terms.

1983. The Owendo-to-Booue section of the Trans-Gabonais Railway is opened by French and Gabonese presidents.

1984. France agrees to supply Gabon with a 9,300-megawatt nuclear power plant, the first in an African nation under black rule.

1986. The Chernobyl accident in the Soviet Union results in the cancellation of the nuclear power plant. MORENA political prisoners are freed.

1990. After much social unrest, President Bongo legalizes opposition to his government. In the country's first multiparty election, Bongo's PDG wins 65 seats in the legislature while opposition parties take the remaining 55 seats.

1993. Multiparty elections are held in December, and Bongo wins with slightly more than 50 percent of the vote. The main opposition leader, Paul Mba Abbesole, claims the process was flawed.

1994. Devaluation of the CFA franc by 50 percent.

1995. The National Assembly election held in December results in a seat distribution of PDG 89, opposition parties 31.

1996. Senate elections are held in January and result in a seat distribution of PDG 53, opposition parties 38.

1998. Bongo is reelected president with 67 percent of the vote.

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