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Gabon appoints first woman prime minister

July 16, 2020

Former Defense Minister Rose Christiane Ossouka Raponda has been promoted to prime minister, making her the first woman to hold the role in Gabon's history.

Rose Christiane Ossouka Raponda
Image: Getty Images/AFP/J. Tatou

The president of Gabon, Ali Bongo Ondimba, appointed the country's first woman prime minister, Rose Christiane Ossouka Raponda on Thursday. 

Oussouka Raponda was promoted from her role as defense minister and takes over from Julien Nkoghe Bekale, who held the role from January 2019. Bekale stepped down from his role earlier in the day. 

This is not the first time that she has shaken up Gabonese politics. After serving as budget minister eight years ago, she became the first woman to be elected mayor of the capital Libreville in 2014 as a candidate for Bongo's Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG). Oussouka Raponda had served as defense minister since February 2019.

Rose Christiane Ossouka Raponda
Ossouka Raponda previously served as Gabon's defense minister and the mayor of the capital LibrevilleImage: Getty Images/AFP/J. Tatou

Tricky road ahead

Oussouka Raponda will now form a new government, while facing two further challenges: dealing with falling oil production and prices, and tackling the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

In a statement, the president said Oussouka Raponda's mission would include "ensuring [Gabon's] economic relaunch and necessary social support in the light of the world crisis linked to COVID-19."

There have been more than 6,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the central African country, along with a few dozen reported deaths. 

Oussouka Raponda is the sixth prime minister to serve under Ondimba after he succeeded his father in 2009. 

kbd/rs (AFP, Reuters)

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