Gabon

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Overview

Occupying an area approximately as large as the state of Colorado, Gabon is a coastal country in the west of Africa. Considered one of the more prosperous sub-Saharan African countries, Gabon relies heavily on the export of natural resources including oil, manganese, iron, and wood. The population is largely tribal, with approximately 41 living language spoken throughout the country. The earliest settlers were the Pygmy people, who were overwhelmed by Bantus tribes. Gabon was conquered by the Portuguese, and then colonized by the French and the Dutch. Earning its independence in 1960, the country went through several decades of political changes, moving from a two-party to one-party to multi-party system. Now, the country’s primary foreign influence in culture and language is French.

 
Omar Bongo, first elected in 1966, held onto his power by adjusting the country's constitution to suit his will and rigging elections, according to many in the international community. Bongo served six terms, 42 years, as president of the country. Bongo met with President George W. Bush in 2004. Omar Bongo died in June 2009 and was succeeded by his son Ali-Ben Bongo who won a controversial presidential election in September 2009. Violence erupted in Port-Gentil after the elections, which opposition leaders alleged were rigged. Gabon continues to experience a dire human rights situation, which didn’t stop CBS from sending its popular reality television show, Survivor, to film in the country in the summer of 2008.
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Basic Information

Lay of the Land: Gabon occupies an area of 267,667 sq. km. (103,347 sq. mi.), which is roughly equivalent to the size of Colorado. Its capital is Libreville (pop. 673,995), and its topography comprises narrow coastal plains and a hilly, heavily forested interior (about 80% forested). There are some savanna regions in east and south. The climate is hot and humid all year, with two rainy and two dry seasons.

 
Population: 1.5 million
 
Religions: Christianity 73%, Muslim 12%, Ethnoreligious 10%, non-religious 5%. Many Christians also practice traditional beliefs.
 
Ethnic Groups: Bantu (Fang, Bapounou, Nzebi, Obamba) 89.5%, other African tribal 9.4%, French 1.3%.
 
Languages: Punu 8.8%, Fang 4.4%, Myene 3.3%, Mbere 3.3%, Sira 2.8%, French (official) 2.6%, Kota 2.6%, Njebi 1.8%, Lumbu 1.4%. There are 41 living languages in Gabon.
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History

Gabon was originally settled by the Bantu ethnic group which arrived in the area while escaping from enemies or while scouting new land on which to settle. Portuguese traders were the first westerners to have contact with the Bantu. They arrived in the 15th Century, naming the country “Gabao” after the Portuguese word for a coat with a sleeve and hood, which was said to resemble the shape of the Komo River Sanctuary.

 
The coast of Gabon became one of the main centers of the slave trade. French and Dutch traders arrived in the 16th Century, and France assumed the role of protector by signing treaties with the Gabonese coastal chiefs in 1849 and 1851.
 
American missionaries from New England arrived in 1842, establishing a mission at Baraka. In 1849, the French captured a slave ship and released its passengers at the mouth of the Komo River. The slaves settled there, changing the name of the existing town (Baraka) to Libreville, or Free Town. During the 1850s, an American named Paul du Chaillu was among the first foreigners to explore the interior of the country, including this slave settlement.
 
Between 1862 and 1887, French explorers made their way through the dense jungles of Gabon. Among them was Savorgnan de Brazza, who used Gabonese bearers and guides in his search for the headwaters of the Congo River. The French continued to occupy Gabon from 1885 until 1903. In 1910, Gabon became one of the four territories of French Equatorial Africa, a federation that survived until 1959. The territories became independent in 1960,as the Central African Republic, Chad, Congo (Brazzaville) and Gabon.
 
When Gabon became independent, two political parties dominated: the Bloc Democratique Gabonais (BDG), led by Leon M'Ba, and the Union Democratique et Sociale Gabonaise (UDSG), led by J.H. Aubame. But after the country's first elections, neither party emerged a winner. Finally, the BDG garnered support from three of the four independent legislative deputies, and M'Ba became Gabon's first prime minister.
 
But soon after the elections, the two party leaders determined that there were not enough people in Gabon to warrant a two-party system. They agreed on a single list of candidates, and in the elections of February 1961, M'Ba became president and Aubame was named foreign minister.
 
Gabon remained a one-party country until February 1961, when BDG forced members of the UDSG to choose between merging the two parties or resigning from their posts. The UDSG cabinet ministers resigned, and M'Ba called an election for February 1964 and the reduced number of National Assembly deputies from 67 to 47. However, the UDSG was unable to come up with a sufficient number of qualified candidates to fill these positions.
 
When the BDG appeared likely to win the election by default, the Gabonese military toppled M'Ba in a bloodless coup on February 18, 1964. French troops re-established his government the next day. In April 1964, elections were held, with many participants from the opposition party. BDG-supported candidates won 31 seats and the opposition 16.
 
In 1966, an amendment was made to Gabon's constitution, which provided for the automatic succession of the vice president if the president died in office. In March 1967, Leon M'Ba and Omar Bongo (then Albert Bongo) were elected president and vice president. M'Ba died later that year, and Omar Bongo became president.
 
In March 1968, Bongo declared Gabon a one-party state. He dissolved the BDG and established a new party—the Parti Democratique Gabonais (PDG). Bongo invited all Gabonese to participate, regardless of their political affiliations, and he was elected president in February 1975. In April of that year, the office of vice president was abolished and replaced by the office of prime minister. According to the Gabonese constitution, the prime minister did not have the same right of succession as the vice president.
 
Bongo continued as the Gabonese leader, after being elected president in December 1979 and November 1986, each for a seven-year term. He used his position of power to diminish the tribal rivalries that had divided the country's politics in the past and develop a more cohesive national movement to develop policies.
 
But in 1990, economic woes and a desire for political liberalization resulted in violent demonstrations led by students and workers. Bongo negotiated with the demonstrators on a sector-by–sector basis and made concessions on wages and the country's political process. A conference was held in March-April of 1990 to discuss Gabon's future political system. The PDG and 74 political organizations attended the conference. Participants essentially divided into two loose coalitions, the ruling PDG and its allies, and the United Front of Opposition Associations and Parties, consisting of the breakaway Morena Fundamental and the Gabonese Progress Party.
 
This conference resulted in many reforms. Among them was the creation of a national senate, decentralization of the budgetary process, freedom of assembly and press, and cancellation of the exit visa requirement. Bonfogo resigned as PDG chairman and created a transitional government headed by a new Prime Minister, Casimir Oye-Mba.
 
The Gabonese Social Democratic Grouping (RSDG), as the new government was called, was smaller than the previous administration and included representatives from several opposition parties. In May 1990, the RSDG drafted a provisional constitution that provided a basic bill of rights and an independent judiciary but retained strong executive powers for the president. It came into force in March 1991 after being reviewed by a constitutional committee and the National Assembly. Under the new 1991 constitution, in the event of the president's death, the prime minister, the National Assembly president, and the defense minister were to share power until a new election could be held.
 
The PDG government continued to attract opposition, however, and in September 1990, two coup d'etat attempts were uncovered and defeated. Demonstrations against the government resurfaced, coming to ahead when an opposition leader died. In September-October of 1990, Gabon held its first multiparty National Assembly elections in almost 30 years. The PDG garnered a large majority.
 
President Bongo was re-elected in December 1993, with 51% of the vote. Opposition candidates refused to validate the election's results, though, and violence erupted again. The government attempted to work with opposition leaders to affect a truce, and these dialogues led to the Paris Accords in November 1994. These talks quickly broke down. In 1996 and 1997, legislative and municipal elections were held. The PDG won by a landslide in the legislative election, but several major cities, including Libreville, elected opposition mayors during the 1997 local election.
 
Bongo was again re-elected in 1998, thanks to a divided opposition. His opponents questioned the outcome of the election, but there was no further violence. Election results in 2001-2002 were considered flawed and were boycotted by a number of opposition parties. The National Assembly was almost completely dominated by the PDG and allied independents. 
 
In November 2005, Bongo was elected for his sixth term. He won re-election easily, despite claims of irregularities in the process. Some violence erupted in isolated areas, but overall, Gabon remained peaceful. In December 2006, National Assembly elections were held, and again the results were contested for voting irregularities. The Constitutional Court overturned several seats after the elections, but the subsequent run-off elections in early 2007 again yielded a PDG-controlled National Assembly.
 
Omar Bongo died on June 8, 2009, ending his 42-year term as president. At the time, he was the world’s longest-reigning leader. On September 3 Ali-Ben Bongo, Omar’s son, was elected president with 42% of the vote. Formerly, he served as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1989 to 1991 and Minister of Defense from 1999 to 2009.
 
The opposition rejected the official results and riots broke out in the city Port-Gentil, where U.S. companies and the French embassy and consulate are located.
 
Gabon  (Trésor de la langue française au Québec) (French)
History of Gabon (Wikipedia)
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Gabon's Newspapers

Gabon News

Internet Gabon (French)
Gabonews (French)
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History of U.S. Relations with Gabon

Relations between Gabon and the United States began on August 17, 1960, when Alan W. Lukens presented his credentials as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim. W. Wendell Blancke became the country's first non-resident ambassador on January 13, 1961, and the embassy in Libreville was established Mar 20, 1961, with Walker A. Diamanti as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim.

 
In 1987, President Bongo made an official visit to Washington, DC. He returned in 2004 during the Bush Administration.
 
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Current U.S. Relations with Gabon

In September 2002, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell visited Gabon in order to highlight environmental protection and conservation in the Central African region. In 2004, President Bongo visited the White House.

 
The United States imports a considerable percentage of Gabonese crude oil and manganese, and exports heavy construction equipment, aircraft, and machinery to Gabon.
 
Through its International Military Education and Training program, the United States provides military training to members of the Gabonese armed forces each year. Other bilateral assistance includes the funding of small grants for qualified democracy and human rights, self-help, and cultural preservation projects. Even before its independence, US private investors have been attracted to Gabon.
 
In 2006, 1,250 Gabonese visited the US, a decrease of 6.8% from the 1,341 that visited in 2005. The number of visitors has fluctuated mildly since 2002, with a low of 980 in 2003 and reaching a highpoint in 2005.
 
Survivor: Gabon, the seventeenth season of the reality television show Survivor, was shot in Gabon between June-July 2008 and aired starting in September 2008. According to CBS, the show was filmed around the coastal towns of Nyonie and Ekwata in the Wonga-Wongue Presidential Reserve.
 
General Ward Visits Gabon (Embassy of the United States, Gabon)
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Where Does the Money Flow

From 2004 to 2008, American imports from Gabon were dominated by crude oil, by far the largest purchase between the two countries. The US has averaged buying approximately $2.2 billion in oil each year from Gabon. After oil, the top imports were miscellaneous nonferrous metals (primarily manganese), increasing from $28.2 million to $85.2 million, natural rubber and similar gums rising from $0 to $2.8 million; lumber and wood, increasing from $1.2 million to $1.5 million,; and railway transportation equipment moving up from $0 to $137,000. 

 
US imports from Gabon on the decline from 2004 to 2008 included plywood and veneers, which decreased from $6.1 million to $1.7 million; artwork, antiques, stamps and other collectibles, moving down from $2.5 million to $994,000; drilling and oilfield equipment and platforms, decreasing from $176,000 to $0; and nickel, down from $133,000 to $0.
 
Like imports, US exports to Gabon are dominated by oil-related business. The top export from 2004 to 2008 was drilling and oilfield equipment which rose from $31.8 million to $151.9 million. Secondary exports were civlian aircrafts, engines, and equipment parts, which increased from $606,000 to $22.5 million; passenger cars, new and used, up from $482,000 to $11.3 million; and materials handling equipment, up from $566,000 to $7.1 million.
 
US exports on the decline included industrial engines, decreasing from $23.7 million to $18.5 million; railway transportation equipment, which moved down from $1.9 million to $355,000 million; sports apparel and gear, decreasing from $934,000 to $295,000; and engines and turbines for military aircraft, down from $277,000 to $41,000.
 
In 2007, the U.S authorized the export of $9,184 worth of defense articles and services.
All of the $200,000 in US aid to Gabon in 2009 was directed towards International Military Education and Training program. However, the 2010 request not only includes $200,000 for International Military Education and Training, but an additional $200,000 for Foreign Military Financing.
 
Gabon (BUYUSA.gov)
African Leaders Complain of Red Tape in Deal With U.S. (by Emad Mekay, Inter Press Service)
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Controversies

Wasted Spending for US Embassy

The same Kuwaiti-based construction company, First Kuwati General Trading & Contracting, that bungled the building of the US embassy in Iraq is accused of creating the same problems in the construction of the new embassy in Libreville. The project cost $55 million dollars and did not meet the expected timeline for completion. Early 2010 is the new target date for completion. The construction of the American embassy in Gabon is a part of the larger global embassy construction project by the State Department, which began in 2001.
 
Lobbyist Jack Abramoff Linked to Gabon's President and President Bush
In November 2005, the New York Times reported that lobbyist Jack Abramoff had asked for $9 million from President Omar Bongo of Gabon to set a 2003 meeting with President George W. Bush, and directed his fees to a Maryland company, GrassRoots Interactive, that was then under investigation from the federal government. Abramoff controlled GrassRoots Interactive, which is now considered a defunct lobbying company. Abramoff also offered to visit leaders in Gabon, adding that other congressman and senators would accompany him. Bongo met with President Bush in the Oval Office on May 26, 2004, 10 months after Abramoff made the offer. There was no conclusive evidence that Abramoff arranged the meeting, signed a contract, or received money for the visit, however there was considerable suspicion. Under Bongo's leadership, Gabon was repeatedly been accused of human rights abuses
 
Lobbyist Sought $9 Million to Set Bush Meeting (by Philip Shenon, New York Times)
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Human Rights

The State Department reports that Gabon's human rights record remained poor.

 
According to the State Department, “ritualistic killings occurred. In February the mutilated body of a 30-year-old male was found in Tchibanga. In March the mutilated body of a high school-aged female was found on a Libreville beach not far from her school. The markings on both bodies suggested the murders were committed for ritualistic purposes. Authorities condemned the killings, but no one was arrested for the crimes.”
 
Although the constitution and law prohibit torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, security forces sometimes beat prisoners and detainees to extract confessions. There were reports of police officers beating, robbing, and raping prostitutes.
 
The State Department found “unconfirmed reports from the African immigrant community asserted that police and soldiers occasionally beat noncitizen Africans during operations to round up and deport illegal immigrants. Refugees continued to complain of harassment and extortion by security forces.
There were isolated reports that practitioners of certain indigenous religions inflicted bodily harm and sometimes death on other persons.”
 
In addition, the State Department reported “prisons were overcrowded, and conditions were harsh. Food, sanitation, and ventilation were poor, and medical care was almost nonexistent, although nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and private citizens occasionally made contributions to augment prisoners' food rations. Juveniles were held with adults, and pretrial detainees were held with convicted prisoners.”
 
The law requires arrest warrants based on sufficient evidence and issued by a duly authorized official; however, security forces frequently disregarded this provision. Laws regarding initial detention, filing of charges, and detention of persons were not routinely followed.
 
Security forces conducted warrantless searches for illegal immigrants and criminals, using street stops and identity checks.
 
Authorities reportedly routinely monitored private telephone conversations, personal mail, and the movement of citizens.
 
According to the State Department, “the constitution and law provide for freedom of speech and of the press; however, the government generally did not respect these rights in practice.  However, the few opposition legislators in the National Assembly openly criticized the government. Local journalists generally practiced self-censorship. Virtually no citizen, journalist, or politician directly criticized President Bongo.”
 
Although the constitution and law provide for freedom of movement within the country, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, the government frequently restricted these rights in practice. Members of the security forces harassed expatriate legally working Africans.
 
The State Department reported “the law provides for the granting of asylum or refugee status in accordance with the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 protocol, and the government has established a system for providing protection to refugees. However, refugees complained about widespread harassment, extortion, and detentions by security forces.”
 
The State Department found “the World Bank's Worldwide Governance Indicators reflected that corruption was a severe problem. The law does not provide for public access to government information, and the government did not allow such access in practice.”
 
In addition they found “although the constitution and law prohibit discrimination based on national origin, race, gender, or opinion, the government did not enforce these provisions uniformly.”
 
They also reported “rape is against the law and carries a penalty of between five and 10 years' imprisonment; however, rape cases were seldom prosecuted and often were perpetrated by law enforcement officials on female noncitizens and prostitutes. Additionally, law prohibited domestic violence, however it was believed to be common practice, especially in rural areas.”
 
According to the State Department “there is no law that prohibits sexual harassment, and it was a problem. The government and NGOs reported cases of female domestic workers (often victims of child trafficking) who were sexually molested by employers.” Trafficking of children and women was also reported.
 
The State Department reported “the law provides that women have rights to equal access in education, business, and investment, but women continued to face considerable societal and legal discrimination, especially in rural areas. Women owned businesses and property, participated in politics, and worked throughout the government and in the private sector.”
 
Furthermore, “Pygmies suffered societal discrimination, often lived in extreme poverty, and did not have easy access to public services. Their Bantu neighbors often exploited their labor, paying much less than minimum wage. There were no specific government programs or policies to assist Pygmies. Some Pygmies reportedly were employed under conditions tantamount to slavery and without effective recourse to the judicial system.”
 
Also there was considerable discrimination against women and persons with HIV/AIDS.
 
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Debate
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Past Ambassadors

Note: Alan W. Lukens (resident at Brazzaville) presented credentials as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim, Aug 17, 1960. During Blanke's tenure as non-resident Ambassador, the Embassy in Libreville was established Mar 20, 1961, with Walker A. Diamanti as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim.

 
W. Wendell Blancke
Appointment: Dec 12, 1960
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 13, 1961
Termination of Mission: Superseded, Oct 10, 1961
Note: Also accredited to the Central African Republic, Chad, and Congo; resident at Brazzaville. Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Feb 6, 1961.
 
Charles F. Darlington
Appointment: Sep 20, 1961
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 18, 1961
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 26, 1964
 
David M. Bane
Appointment: Jul 22, 1965
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 14, 1965
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jun 29, 1969
 
Richard Funkhouser
Appointment: Jun 13, 1969
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 9, 1969
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 2, 1970
 
John A. McKesson, III
Appointment: Dec 10, 1970
Presentation of Credentials: Feb 4, 1971
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jun 1, 1975
 
Andrew L. Steigman
Appointment: Jun 10, 1975
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 9, 1975
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 21, 1977
Note: Also accredited to the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe; resident at Libreville.
 
Arthur T. Tienken
Appointment: Feb 3, 1978
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 6, 1978
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 19, 1981
Note: Also accredited to the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe; resident at Libreville.
 
Francis Terry McNamara
Appointment: Dec 11, 1981
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 19, 1982
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 3, 1984
Note: Also accredited to the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe; resident at Libreville.
 
Larry C. Williamson
Appointment: Aug 13, 1984
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 20, 1984
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 21, 1987
Note: Also accredited to the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe; resident at Libreville.
 
Warren Clark, Jr.
Appointment: Aug 10, 1987
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 19, 1987
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 24, 1989
Note: Also accredited to the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe; resident at Libreville.
 
Keith Leveret Wauchope
Appointment: Nov 6, 1989
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 8, 1989
Termination of Mission: Left post, July 13, 1992
Note: Also accredited to the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe; resident at Libreville.
 
Joseph Charles Wilson IV
Appointment: Jul 14, 1992
Presentation of Credentials: Sept 17, 1992
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 5, 1995
Note: Also accredited to the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe; resident at Libreville.
 
Elizabeth Raspolic
Appointment: Oct 3, 1995
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 29, 1995
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 24, 1998
Note: Also accredited to the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe; resident at Libreville.
 
James Vela Ledesman
Appointment: Oct 22, 1998
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 16, 1998
Termination of Mission: Left post Jun 18, 2001
Note: Also accredited to the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe; resident at Libreville.
 
Note: Thomas F. Daughton served as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim Jun 2001–Jun 2002.
 
Kenneth Price Moorfield
Appointment: Jan 30, 2002
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 20, 2002
Termination of Mission:
Note: Also accredited to Sao Tome and Principe; resident at Libreville.
 
R Barrie Walkley
Appointment: Jul 2, 2004
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 12, 2004
Termination of Mission: Left post, Apr 27, 2007
Note: Also accredited to Sao Tome and Principe; resident at Libreville.
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Gabon's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Moussa-Adamo, Michael

The latest ambassador from the African nation of Gabon is a longtime public servant who spent his twenties in Boston, Massachusetts; Washington, DC; and Phoenix, Arizona; both as a college student and an early career professional. Michael Moussa-Adamo presented his credentials to President Barack Obama as ambassador of Gabon to the United States on September 9, 2011.

 
“I came to America as a young man in 1981 and I learned to appreciate and understand America and Americans. To come back as Ambassador is a dream come true,” Moussa recently said. Moussa’s arrival comes just three months after Gabon’s dictator, Ali Bongo Ondimba, met with President Obama to discuss regional and global issues. Gabon is one of three African countries with a seat on the United Nations Security Council.
 
Born January 10, 1961, in Makokou, Gabon, Moussa began his career in 1981 as a television presenter for channel 2 of Radio Television Gabon (RTG).
 
He arrived in the US in 1981 and earned an undergraduate degree, and his master’s degree in international relations and communications at Boston University in 1989. While at BU, he worked as a teaching assistant at the African Studies Center, and as a research assistant at the Center for International Relations (1986-1989). He also worked as a consultant at JSI/World Education (1988-1989), where he evaluated the Band Aid/Live Aid philanthropic projects.
 
After graduating, he went to work as a consultant for the World Wildlife Fund at its Washington, DC, headquarters (1989-1991. For four months in 1991 he joined IFESH (International Foundation for Education and Self-Help) in Phoenix, where he worked on the first African-African American Summit, which was held in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.
 
Upon his return to Gabon in 1991, Moussa began his career in public service with two years as Diplomatic Adviser to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. After a six-year gap in his CV, Moussa spent the last four months of 1999 as Director of Cabinet in the Ministry of National Defense.
 
In January 2000 he elected to a position as a deputy in the Gabonese National Assembly, although elections in Gabon do not fit the accepted definition of democratic. Moussa spent five years in the national assembly and was spokesman for the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs and defense.
 
In February 2007 Moussa was appointed the president’s Special Advisor and Head of Missions. He added the roles of chief of the information technology division of the Department of Communicationin October 2009 and head of the Department of Tourism, Arts, Culture, and Sports in January 2011.
 
He is the founder of two small consulting businesses in Gabon, MS Consulting and LOCAT.
 
Moussa is married and the father of six children, including three attending colleges in the United States.
 

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Gabon's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gabon’s Embassy in the U.S.

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U.S. Ambassador to Gabon

Akuetteh, Cynthia
ambassador-image

The West African nation of Gabon and the island nation of São Tomé & Príncipe will soon have a new representative from the United States. Nominated September 12, Cynthia H. Akuetteh is deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of African Affairs at the Department of State, a position she has held since 2012. If confirmed by the Senate as expected, Akuetteh would succeed Eric D. Benjaminson, who has served in the post since December 2010.

 

Born circa 1948, Akuetteh (née Cynthia Archie) graduated from Western High School in Washington D.C. in 1966. She earned a B.A. from C.W. Post College of Long Island University in 1970 and an M.A. in National Security Resource Policy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (now the Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy) at the National Defense University. She also completed two years of graduate course work at Columbia University from 1971 to 1973. 

 

Prior to joining the Foreign Service in 1984 as an economic officer, Akuetteh was deputy director of the Peace Corps program in Ghana. Early career overseas postings included Niamey, Niger; Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania; and service as a trade policy officer at the U.S. embassy in Ottawa, Canada. In Washington, DC, Akuetteh served as deputy division chief in the Office of Bilateral Trade Affairs and as economic/commercial officer in the Bureau of Economic Affairs; senior Venezuela desk officer in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs; international economist in the Office of Economic Sanctions, and international economist in the Office of Energy Policy.

 

From 2004 to 2005, Akuetteh was deputy director in the Office of Economic Policy Staff for the Bureau of African Affairs, where she focused on the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and other trade issues. 

 

Akuetteh then served two straight stints as embassy deputy chief of mission, first at the embassy in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, from 2005 to 2007, and then at the embassy in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, from 2007 to 2009.

 

From 2009 to 2011, Akuetteh was the director in the Office of Central African Affairs, and from 2011 to 2012, she was the director in the Office of Europe, Middle East and Africa in the Bureau of Energy Resources. 

 

Akuetteh is married to Nii Akuetteh, a Ghanaian-born policy analyst and activist who founded the Democracy and Conflict Research Institute in Accra, Ghana, and is executive director of the Scholars Council of the TransAfrica Forum. They have a daughter, Nueteki Akuetteh, who is vice president of Global Operations for Young Professionals in Foreign Policy.

-Matt Bewig

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Previous U.S. Ambassador to Gabon

Reddick, Eunice
ambassador-image

Eunice S. Reddick began serving as the US ambassador to Gabon and Sao Tome and Principe on November 9, 2007. 
 
Born in New York City, Reddick received a BA in history and literature from New York University (1973) and a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University’s School of International Affairs (1975). After completing her graduate studies, she worked for several years at the Africa-America Institute in New York and Washington.
 
Reddick began her Foreign Service career in 1980 and was posted in 1981 as consular officer to Embassy Harare, Zimbabwe. In 1983, she returned to the State Department and was assigned to the Bureau of Population, Refugee and Migration Affairs to monitor assistance to African refugees. 
 
From 1986 to 1988, Reddick served as country officer for Tanzania and the India Ocean countries in the Bureau of African Affairs. She was a senior watch officer in the secretary of state’s 24-hour Operations Center, and from 1989-1990, studied Mandarin Chinese at the AIT/Taipei Language School, while on assignment to the political section at Embassy Beijing.
 
Reddick received the Dean and Virginia Rusk Fellowship in 1993 and spent a year as an associate at Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy. She was assigned as deputy director in the State Department, first in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs Office of Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam Affairs, and secondly in the Office of International Development Assistance in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs
 
From 1997-2000, Reddick was the chief of the political section at the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), Taipei office. From 2002 to 2004, she was director of the Office of Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore Affairs, and from 2005 to 2007, she served as director of the Office of East African Affairs in the State Department Bureau of African Affairs.
 
Reddick is married to the former Ambassador to Chad, Marc Wall, who also served as the Coordinator for Economic Transition in Iraq. They have two children.

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Overview

Occupying an area approximately as large as the state of Colorado, Gabon is a coastal country in the west of Africa. Considered one of the more prosperous sub-Saharan African countries, Gabon relies heavily on the export of natural resources including oil, manganese, iron, and wood. The population is largely tribal, with approximately 41 living language spoken throughout the country. The earliest settlers were the Pygmy people, who were overwhelmed by Bantus tribes. Gabon was conquered by the Portuguese, and then colonized by the French and the Dutch. Earning its independence in 1960, the country went through several decades of political changes, moving from a two-party to one-party to multi-party system. Now, the country’s primary foreign influence in culture and language is French.

 
Omar Bongo, first elected in 1966, held onto his power by adjusting the country's constitution to suit his will and rigging elections, according to many in the international community. Bongo served six terms, 42 years, as president of the country. Bongo met with President George W. Bush in 2004. Omar Bongo died in June 2009 and was succeeded by his son Ali-Ben Bongo who won a controversial presidential election in September 2009. Violence erupted in Port-Gentil after the elections, which opposition leaders alleged were rigged. Gabon continues to experience a dire human rights situation, which didn’t stop CBS from sending its popular reality television show, Survivor, to film in the country in the summer of 2008.
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Basic Information

Lay of the Land: Gabon occupies an area of 267,667 sq. km. (103,347 sq. mi.), which is roughly equivalent to the size of Colorado. Its capital is Libreville (pop. 673,995), and its topography comprises narrow coastal plains and a hilly, heavily forested interior (about 80% forested). There are some savanna regions in east and south. The climate is hot and humid all year, with two rainy and two dry seasons.

 
Population: 1.5 million
 
Religions: Christianity 73%, Muslim 12%, Ethnoreligious 10%, non-religious 5%. Many Christians also practice traditional beliefs.
 
Ethnic Groups: Bantu (Fang, Bapounou, Nzebi, Obamba) 89.5%, other African tribal 9.4%, French 1.3%.
 
Languages: Punu 8.8%, Fang 4.4%, Myene 3.3%, Mbere 3.3%, Sira 2.8%, French (official) 2.6%, Kota 2.6%, Njebi 1.8%, Lumbu 1.4%. There are 41 living languages in Gabon.
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History

Gabon was originally settled by the Bantu ethnic group which arrived in the area while escaping from enemies or while scouting new land on which to settle. Portuguese traders were the first westerners to have contact with the Bantu. They arrived in the 15th Century, naming the country “Gabao” after the Portuguese word for a coat with a sleeve and hood, which was said to resemble the shape of the Komo River Sanctuary.

 
The coast of Gabon became one of the main centers of the slave trade. French and Dutch traders arrived in the 16th Century, and France assumed the role of protector by signing treaties with the Gabonese coastal chiefs in 1849 and 1851.
 
American missionaries from New England arrived in 1842, establishing a mission at Baraka. In 1849, the French captured a slave ship and released its passengers at the mouth of the Komo River. The slaves settled there, changing the name of the existing town (Baraka) to Libreville, or Free Town. During the 1850s, an American named Paul du Chaillu was among the first foreigners to explore the interior of the country, including this slave settlement.
 
Between 1862 and 1887, French explorers made their way through the dense jungles of Gabon. Among them was Savorgnan de Brazza, who used Gabonese bearers and guides in his search for the headwaters of the Congo River. The French continued to occupy Gabon from 1885 until 1903. In 1910, Gabon became one of the four territories of French Equatorial Africa, a federation that survived until 1959. The territories became independent in 1960,as the Central African Republic, Chad, Congo (Brazzaville) and Gabon.
 
When Gabon became independent, two political parties dominated: the Bloc Democratique Gabonais (BDG), led by Leon M'Ba, and the Union Democratique et Sociale Gabonaise (UDSG), led by J.H. Aubame. But after the country's first elections, neither party emerged a winner. Finally, the BDG garnered support from three of the four independent legislative deputies, and M'Ba became Gabon's first prime minister.
 
But soon after the elections, the two party leaders determined that there were not enough people in Gabon to warrant a two-party system. They agreed on a single list of candidates, and in the elections of February 1961, M'Ba became president and Aubame was named foreign minister.
 
Gabon remained a one-party country until February 1961, when BDG forced members of the UDSG to choose between merging the two parties or resigning from their posts. The UDSG cabinet ministers resigned, and M'Ba called an election for February 1964 and the reduced number of National Assembly deputies from 67 to 47. However, the UDSG was unable to come up with a sufficient number of qualified candidates to fill these positions.
 
When the BDG appeared likely to win the election by default, the Gabonese military toppled M'Ba in a bloodless coup on February 18, 1964. French troops re-established his government the next day. In April 1964, elections were held, with many participants from the opposition party. BDG-supported candidates won 31 seats and the opposition 16.
 
In 1966, an amendment was made to Gabon's constitution, which provided for the automatic succession of the vice president if the president died in office. In March 1967, Leon M'Ba and Omar Bongo (then Albert Bongo) were elected president and vice president. M'Ba died later that year, and Omar Bongo became president.
 
In March 1968, Bongo declared Gabon a one-party state. He dissolved the BDG and established a new party—the Parti Democratique Gabonais (PDG). Bongo invited all Gabonese to participate, regardless of their political affiliations, and he was elected president in February 1975. In April of that year, the office of vice president was abolished and replaced by the office of prime minister. According to the Gabonese constitution, the prime minister did not have the same right of succession as the vice president.
 
Bongo continued as the Gabonese leader, after being elected president in December 1979 and November 1986, each for a seven-year term. He used his position of power to diminish the tribal rivalries that had divided the country's politics in the past and develop a more cohesive national movement to develop policies.
 
But in 1990, economic woes and a desire for political liberalization resulted in violent demonstrations led by students and workers. Bongo negotiated with the demonstrators on a sector-by–sector basis and made concessions on wages and the country's political process. A conference was held in March-April of 1990 to discuss Gabon's future political system. The PDG and 74 political organizations attended the conference. Participants essentially divided into two loose coalitions, the ruling PDG and its allies, and the United Front of Opposition Associations and Parties, consisting of the breakaway Morena Fundamental and the Gabonese Progress Party.
 
This conference resulted in many reforms. Among them was the creation of a national senate, decentralization of the budgetary process, freedom of assembly and press, and cancellation of the exit visa requirement. Bonfogo resigned as PDG chairman and created a transitional government headed by a new Prime Minister, Casimir Oye-Mba.
 
The Gabonese Social Democratic Grouping (RSDG), as the new government was called, was smaller than the previous administration and included representatives from several opposition parties. In May 1990, the RSDG drafted a provisional constitution that provided a basic bill of rights and an independent judiciary but retained strong executive powers for the president. It came into force in March 1991 after being reviewed by a constitutional committee and the National Assembly. Under the new 1991 constitution, in the event of the president's death, the prime minister, the National Assembly president, and the defense minister were to share power until a new election could be held.
 
The PDG government continued to attract opposition, however, and in September 1990, two coup d'etat attempts were uncovered and defeated. Demonstrations against the government resurfaced, coming to ahead when an opposition leader died. In September-October of 1990, Gabon held its first multiparty National Assembly elections in almost 30 years. The PDG garnered a large majority.
 
President Bongo was re-elected in December 1993, with 51% of the vote. Opposition candidates refused to validate the election's results, though, and violence erupted again. The government attempted to work with opposition leaders to affect a truce, and these dialogues led to the Paris Accords in November 1994. These talks quickly broke down. In 1996 and 1997, legislative and municipal elections were held. The PDG won by a landslide in the legislative election, but several major cities, including Libreville, elected opposition mayors during the 1997 local election.
 
Bongo was again re-elected in 1998, thanks to a divided opposition. His opponents questioned the outcome of the election, but there was no further violence. Election results in 2001-2002 were considered flawed and were boycotted by a number of opposition parties. The National Assembly was almost completely dominated by the PDG and allied independents. 
 
In November 2005, Bongo was elected for his sixth term. He won re-election easily, despite claims of irregularities in the process. Some violence erupted in isolated areas, but overall, Gabon remained peaceful. In December 2006, National Assembly elections were held, and again the results were contested for voting irregularities. The Constitutional Court overturned several seats after the elections, but the subsequent run-off elections in early 2007 again yielded a PDG-controlled National Assembly.
 
Omar Bongo died on June 8, 2009, ending his 42-year term as president. At the time, he was the world’s longest-reigning leader. On September 3 Ali-Ben Bongo, Omar’s son, was elected president with 42% of the vote. Formerly, he served as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1989 to 1991 and Minister of Defense from 1999 to 2009.
 
The opposition rejected the official results and riots broke out in the city Port-Gentil, where U.S. companies and the French embassy and consulate are located.
 
Gabon  (Trésor de la langue française au Québec) (French)
History of Gabon (Wikipedia)
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Gabon's Newspapers

Gabon News

Internet Gabon (French)
Gabonews (French)
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History of U.S. Relations with Gabon

Relations between Gabon and the United States began on August 17, 1960, when Alan W. Lukens presented his credentials as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim. W. Wendell Blancke became the country's first non-resident ambassador on January 13, 1961, and the embassy in Libreville was established Mar 20, 1961, with Walker A. Diamanti as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim.

 
In 1987, President Bongo made an official visit to Washington, DC. He returned in 2004 during the Bush Administration.
 
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Current U.S. Relations with Gabon

In September 2002, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell visited Gabon in order to highlight environmental protection and conservation in the Central African region. In 2004, President Bongo visited the White House.

 
The United States imports a considerable percentage of Gabonese crude oil and manganese, and exports heavy construction equipment, aircraft, and machinery to Gabon.
 
Through its International Military Education and Training program, the United States provides military training to members of the Gabonese armed forces each year. Other bilateral assistance includes the funding of small grants for qualified democracy and human rights, self-help, and cultural preservation projects. Even before its independence, US private investors have been attracted to Gabon.
 
In 2006, 1,250 Gabonese visited the US, a decrease of 6.8% from the 1,341 that visited in 2005. The number of visitors has fluctuated mildly since 2002, with a low of 980 in 2003 and reaching a highpoint in 2005.
 
Survivor: Gabon, the seventeenth season of the reality television show Survivor, was shot in Gabon between June-July 2008 and aired starting in September 2008. According to CBS, the show was filmed around the coastal towns of Nyonie and Ekwata in the Wonga-Wongue Presidential Reserve.
 
General Ward Visits Gabon (Embassy of the United States, Gabon)
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Where Does the Money Flow

From 2004 to 2008, American imports from Gabon were dominated by crude oil, by far the largest purchase between the two countries. The US has averaged buying approximately $2.2 billion in oil each year from Gabon. After oil, the top imports were miscellaneous nonferrous metals (primarily manganese), increasing from $28.2 million to $85.2 million, natural rubber and similar gums rising from $0 to $2.8 million; lumber and wood, increasing from $1.2 million to $1.5 million,; and railway transportation equipment moving up from $0 to $137,000. 

 
US imports from Gabon on the decline from 2004 to 2008 included plywood and veneers, which decreased from $6.1 million to $1.7 million; artwork, antiques, stamps and other collectibles, moving down from $2.5 million to $994,000; drilling and oilfield equipment and platforms, decreasing from $176,000 to $0; and nickel, down from $133,000 to $0.
 
Like imports, US exports to Gabon are dominated by oil-related business. The top export from 2004 to 2008 was drilling and oilfield equipment which rose from $31.8 million to $151.9 million. Secondary exports were civlian aircrafts, engines, and equipment parts, which increased from $606,000 to $22.5 million; passenger cars, new and used, up from $482,000 to $11.3 million; and materials handling equipment, up from $566,000 to $7.1 million.
 
US exports on the decline included industrial engines, decreasing from $23.7 million to $18.5 million; railway transportation equipment, which moved down from $1.9 million to $355,000 million; sports apparel and gear, decreasing from $934,000 to $295,000; and engines and turbines for military aircraft, down from $277,000 to $41,000.
 
In 2007, the U.S authorized the export of $9,184 worth of defense articles and services.
All of the $200,000 in US aid to Gabon in 2009 was directed towards International Military Education and Training program. However, the 2010 request not only includes $200,000 for International Military Education and Training, but an additional $200,000 for Foreign Military Financing.
 
Gabon (BUYUSA.gov)
African Leaders Complain of Red Tape in Deal With U.S. (by Emad Mekay, Inter Press Service)
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Controversies

Wasted Spending for US Embassy

The same Kuwaiti-based construction company, First Kuwati General Trading & Contracting, that bungled the building of the US embassy in Iraq is accused of creating the same problems in the construction of the new embassy in Libreville. The project cost $55 million dollars and did not meet the expected timeline for completion. Early 2010 is the new target date for completion. The construction of the American embassy in Gabon is a part of the larger global embassy construction project by the State Department, which began in 2001.
 
Lobbyist Jack Abramoff Linked to Gabon's President and President Bush
In November 2005, the New York Times reported that lobbyist Jack Abramoff had asked for $9 million from President Omar Bongo of Gabon to set a 2003 meeting with President George W. Bush, and directed his fees to a Maryland company, GrassRoots Interactive, that was then under investigation from the federal government. Abramoff controlled GrassRoots Interactive, which is now considered a defunct lobbying company. Abramoff also offered to visit leaders in Gabon, adding that other congressman and senators would accompany him. Bongo met with President Bush in the Oval Office on May 26, 2004, 10 months after Abramoff made the offer. There was no conclusive evidence that Abramoff arranged the meeting, signed a contract, or received money for the visit, however there was considerable suspicion. Under Bongo's leadership, Gabon was repeatedly been accused of human rights abuses
 
Lobbyist Sought $9 Million to Set Bush Meeting (by Philip Shenon, New York Times)
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Human Rights

The State Department reports that Gabon's human rights record remained poor.

 
According to the State Department, “ritualistic killings occurred. In February the mutilated body of a 30-year-old male was found in Tchibanga. In March the mutilated body of a high school-aged female was found on a Libreville beach not far from her school. The markings on both bodies suggested the murders were committed for ritualistic purposes. Authorities condemned the killings, but no one was arrested for the crimes.”
 
Although the constitution and law prohibit torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, security forces sometimes beat prisoners and detainees to extract confessions. There were reports of police officers beating, robbing, and raping prostitutes.
 
The State Department found “unconfirmed reports from the African immigrant community asserted that police and soldiers occasionally beat noncitizen Africans during operations to round up and deport illegal immigrants. Refugees continued to complain of harassment and extortion by security forces.
There were isolated reports that practitioners of certain indigenous religions inflicted bodily harm and sometimes death on other persons.”
 
In addition, the State Department reported “prisons were overcrowded, and conditions were harsh. Food, sanitation, and ventilation were poor, and medical care was almost nonexistent, although nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and private citizens occasionally made contributions to augment prisoners' food rations. Juveniles were held with adults, and pretrial detainees were held with convicted prisoners.”
 
The law requires arrest warrants based on sufficient evidence and issued by a duly authorized official; however, security forces frequently disregarded this provision. Laws regarding initial detention, filing of charges, and detention of persons were not routinely followed.
 
Security forces conducted warrantless searches for illegal immigrants and criminals, using street stops and identity checks.
 
Authorities reportedly routinely monitored private telephone conversations, personal mail, and the movement of citizens.
 
According to the State Department, “the constitution and law provide for freedom of speech and of the press; however, the government generally did not respect these rights in practice.  However, the few opposition legislators in the National Assembly openly criticized the government. Local journalists generally practiced self-censorship. Virtually no citizen, journalist, or politician directly criticized President Bongo.”
 
Although the constitution and law provide for freedom of movement within the country, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, the government frequently restricted these rights in practice. Members of the security forces harassed expatriate legally working Africans.
 
The State Department reported “the law provides for the granting of asylum or refugee status in accordance with the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 protocol, and the government has established a system for providing protection to refugees. However, refugees complained about widespread harassment, extortion, and detentions by security forces.”
 
The State Department found “the World Bank's Worldwide Governance Indicators reflected that corruption was a severe problem. The law does not provide for public access to government information, and the government did not allow such access in practice.”
 
In addition they found “although the constitution and law prohibit discrimination based on national origin, race, gender, or opinion, the government did not enforce these provisions uniformly.”
 
They also reported “rape is against the law and carries a penalty of between five and 10 years' imprisonment; however, rape cases were seldom prosecuted and often were perpetrated by law enforcement officials on female noncitizens and prostitutes. Additionally, law prohibited domestic violence, however it was believed to be common practice, especially in rural areas.”
 
According to the State Department “there is no law that prohibits sexual harassment, and it was a problem. The government and NGOs reported cases of female domestic workers (often victims of child trafficking) who were sexually molested by employers.” Trafficking of children and women was also reported.
 
The State Department reported “the law provides that women have rights to equal access in education, business, and investment, but women continued to face considerable societal and legal discrimination, especially in rural areas. Women owned businesses and property, participated in politics, and worked throughout the government and in the private sector.”
 
Furthermore, “Pygmies suffered societal discrimination, often lived in extreme poverty, and did not have easy access to public services. Their Bantu neighbors often exploited their labor, paying much less than minimum wage. There were no specific government programs or policies to assist Pygmies. Some Pygmies reportedly were employed under conditions tantamount to slavery and without effective recourse to the judicial system.”
 
Also there was considerable discrimination against women and persons with HIV/AIDS.
 
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Debate
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Past Ambassadors

Note: Alan W. Lukens (resident at Brazzaville) presented credentials as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim, Aug 17, 1960. During Blanke's tenure as non-resident Ambassador, the Embassy in Libreville was established Mar 20, 1961, with Walker A. Diamanti as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim.

 
W. Wendell Blancke
Appointment: Dec 12, 1960
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 13, 1961
Termination of Mission: Superseded, Oct 10, 1961
Note: Also accredited to the Central African Republic, Chad, and Congo; resident at Brazzaville. Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Feb 6, 1961.
 
Charles F. Darlington
Appointment: Sep 20, 1961
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 18, 1961
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 26, 1964
 
David M. Bane
Appointment: Jul 22, 1965
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 14, 1965
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jun 29, 1969
 
Richard Funkhouser
Appointment: Jun 13, 1969
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 9, 1969
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 2, 1970
 
John A. McKesson, III
Appointment: Dec 10, 1970
Presentation of Credentials: Feb 4, 1971
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jun 1, 1975
 
Andrew L. Steigman
Appointment: Jun 10, 1975
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 9, 1975
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 21, 1977
Note: Also accredited to the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe; resident at Libreville.
 
Arthur T. Tienken
Appointment: Feb 3, 1978
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 6, 1978
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 19, 1981
Note: Also accredited to the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe; resident at Libreville.
 
Francis Terry McNamara
Appointment: Dec 11, 1981
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 19, 1982
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 3, 1984
Note: Also accredited to the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe; resident at Libreville.
 
Larry C. Williamson
Appointment: Aug 13, 1984
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 20, 1984
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 21, 1987
Note: Also accredited to the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe; resident at Libreville.
 
Warren Clark, Jr.
Appointment: Aug 10, 1987
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 19, 1987
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 24, 1989
Note: Also accredited to the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe; resident at Libreville.
 
Keith Leveret Wauchope
Appointment: Nov 6, 1989
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 8, 1989
Termination of Mission: Left post, July 13, 1992
Note: Also accredited to the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe; resident at Libreville.
 
Joseph Charles Wilson IV
Appointment: Jul 14, 1992
Presentation of Credentials: Sept 17, 1992
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 5, 1995
Note: Also accredited to the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe; resident at Libreville.
 
Elizabeth Raspolic
Appointment: Oct 3, 1995
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 29, 1995
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 24, 1998
Note: Also accredited to the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe; resident at Libreville.
 
James Vela Ledesman
Appointment: Oct 22, 1998
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 16, 1998
Termination of Mission: Left post Jun 18, 2001
Note: Also accredited to the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe; resident at Libreville.
 
Note: Thomas F. Daughton served as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim Jun 2001–Jun 2002.
 
Kenneth Price Moorfield
Appointment: Jan 30, 2002
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 20, 2002
Termination of Mission:
Note: Also accredited to Sao Tome and Principe; resident at Libreville.
 
R Barrie Walkley
Appointment: Jul 2, 2004
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 12, 2004
Termination of Mission: Left post, Apr 27, 2007
Note: Also accredited to Sao Tome and Principe; resident at Libreville.
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Gabon's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Moussa-Adamo, Michael

The latest ambassador from the African nation of Gabon is a longtime public servant who spent his twenties in Boston, Massachusetts; Washington, DC; and Phoenix, Arizona; both as a college student and an early career professional. Michael Moussa-Adamo presented his credentials to President Barack Obama as ambassador of Gabon to the United States on September 9, 2011.

 
“I came to America as a young man in 1981 and I learned to appreciate and understand America and Americans. To come back as Ambassador is a dream come true,” Moussa recently said. Moussa’s arrival comes just three months after Gabon’s dictator, Ali Bongo Ondimba, met with President Obama to discuss regional and global issues. Gabon is one of three African countries with a seat on the United Nations Security Council.
 
Born January 10, 1961, in Makokou, Gabon, Moussa began his career in 1981 as a television presenter for channel 2 of Radio Television Gabon (RTG).
 
He arrived in the US in 1981 and earned an undergraduate degree, and his master’s degree in international relations and communications at Boston University in 1989. While at BU, he worked as a teaching assistant at the African Studies Center, and as a research assistant at the Center for International Relations (1986-1989). He also worked as a consultant at JSI/World Education (1988-1989), where he evaluated the Band Aid/Live Aid philanthropic projects.
 
After graduating, he went to work as a consultant for the World Wildlife Fund at its Washington, DC, headquarters (1989-1991. For four months in 1991 he joined IFESH (International Foundation for Education and Self-Help) in Phoenix, where he worked on the first African-African American Summit, which was held in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.
 
Upon his return to Gabon in 1991, Moussa began his career in public service with two years as Diplomatic Adviser to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. After a six-year gap in his CV, Moussa spent the last four months of 1999 as Director of Cabinet in the Ministry of National Defense.
 
In January 2000 he elected to a position as a deputy in the Gabonese National Assembly, although elections in Gabon do not fit the accepted definition of democratic. Moussa spent five years in the national assembly and was spokesman for the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs and defense.
 
In February 2007 Moussa was appointed the president’s Special Advisor and Head of Missions. He added the roles of chief of the information technology division of the Department of Communicationin October 2009 and head of the Department of Tourism, Arts, Culture, and Sports in January 2011.
 
He is the founder of two small consulting businesses in Gabon, MS Consulting and LOCAT.
 
Moussa is married and the father of six children, including three attending colleges in the United States.
 

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Gabon's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gabon’s Embassy in the U.S.

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U.S. Ambassador to Gabon

Akuetteh, Cynthia
ambassador-image

The West African nation of Gabon and the island nation of São Tomé & Príncipe will soon have a new representative from the United States. Nominated September 12, Cynthia H. Akuetteh is deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of African Affairs at the Department of State, a position she has held since 2012. If confirmed by the Senate as expected, Akuetteh would succeed Eric D. Benjaminson, who has served in the post since December 2010.

 

Born circa 1948, Akuetteh (née Cynthia Archie) graduated from Western High School in Washington D.C. in 1966. She earned a B.A. from C.W. Post College of Long Island University in 1970 and an M.A. in National Security Resource Policy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (now the Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy) at the National Defense University. She also completed two years of graduate course work at Columbia University from 1971 to 1973. 

 

Prior to joining the Foreign Service in 1984 as an economic officer, Akuetteh was deputy director of the Peace Corps program in Ghana. Early career overseas postings included Niamey, Niger; Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania; and service as a trade policy officer at the U.S. embassy in Ottawa, Canada. In Washington, DC, Akuetteh served as deputy division chief in the Office of Bilateral Trade Affairs and as economic/commercial officer in the Bureau of Economic Affairs; senior Venezuela desk officer in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs; international economist in the Office of Economic Sanctions, and international economist in the Office of Energy Policy.

 

From 2004 to 2005, Akuetteh was deputy director in the Office of Economic Policy Staff for the Bureau of African Affairs, where she focused on the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and other trade issues. 

 

Akuetteh then served two straight stints as embassy deputy chief of mission, first at the embassy in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, from 2005 to 2007, and then at the embassy in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, from 2007 to 2009.

 

From 2009 to 2011, Akuetteh was the director in the Office of Central African Affairs, and from 2011 to 2012, she was the director in the Office of Europe, Middle East and Africa in the Bureau of Energy Resources. 

 

Akuetteh is married to Nii Akuetteh, a Ghanaian-born policy analyst and activist who founded the Democracy and Conflict Research Institute in Accra, Ghana, and is executive director of the Scholars Council of the TransAfrica Forum. They have a daughter, Nueteki Akuetteh, who is vice president of Global Operations for Young Professionals in Foreign Policy.

-Matt Bewig

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Previous U.S. Ambassador to Gabon

Reddick, Eunice
ambassador-image

Eunice S. Reddick began serving as the US ambassador to Gabon and Sao Tome and Principe on November 9, 2007. 
 
Born in New York City, Reddick received a BA in history and literature from New York University (1973) and a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University’s School of International Affairs (1975). After completing her graduate studies, she worked for several years at the Africa-America Institute in New York and Washington.
 
Reddick began her Foreign Service career in 1980 and was posted in 1981 as consular officer to Embassy Harare, Zimbabwe. In 1983, she returned to the State Department and was assigned to the Bureau of Population, Refugee and Migration Affairs to monitor assistance to African refugees. 
 
From 1986 to 1988, Reddick served as country officer for Tanzania and the India Ocean countries in the Bureau of African Affairs. She was a senior watch officer in the secretary of state’s 24-hour Operations Center, and from 1989-1990, studied Mandarin Chinese at the AIT/Taipei Language School, while on assignment to the political section at Embassy Beijing.
 
Reddick received the Dean and Virginia Rusk Fellowship in 1993 and spent a year as an associate at Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy. She was assigned as deputy director in the State Department, first in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs Office of Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam Affairs, and secondly in the Office of International Development Assistance in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs
 
From 1997-2000, Reddick was the chief of the political section at the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), Taipei office. From 2002 to 2004, she was director of the Office of Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore Affairs, and from 2005 to 2007, she served as director of the Office of East African Affairs in the State Department Bureau of African Affairs.
 
Reddick is married to the former Ambassador to Chad, Marc Wall, who also served as the Coordinator for Economic Transition in Iraq. They have two children.

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