Omar Bongo Ondimba (Le Grand Camarade)
Former President of Gabon
Date of Birth: 30/12/1935
Place of Birth: Lewai
Career: Vice President of Gabon, 1967; President of Gabon, 1967-2009.
Commentary: Born Albert Bernard Bongo in 1935, President El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba was Africa's longest-serving leader and was from the Bateke people of south-east Gabon. The Bateke span the border between Gabon and Congo-Kinshasa, and his opponents claimed that he was Congolese. Gabon's first President, Leon Mba, chose him to be his
Vice-President when Bongo was 32-years-old and after Mba's death in
1967, Bongo succeeded him as President. In 1973, he converted to Islam,
and in 2003 he took his father's name, Ondimba. He ruled Gabon for over
40 years until his death on 8 June 2009 after a heart attack. He was in Barcelona at the time, where he was being treated for intestinal cancer.
His death complicates the ruling family's life. His accounts in Paris are still frozen, due to the Cardona case and questions linger about millions of euros found in his late wife's Monaco account. He is rumoured to have more than 30 children but his son Ali Ben Bongo and daughter Pascaline are the most well known to the public.