Gabon reshuffled its cabinet on Friday to bring in a leading critic of President Ali Bongo and an elder statesman from his father’s former regime, in what appeared to be a bid to shore up support ahead of elections due next year.
The reshuffle, announced in a presidential decree, expanded the cabinet oil-rich central African country to 41 members from a previous 34.
Jean de Dieu Moukagni Iwangou, a leader of the opposition Union of the Gabonese People (UPG), entered the cabinet as minister of state for agriculture.
Moukagni Iwangou has been one of the most outspoken voices in the opposition and the president of the Opposition Front for Change – a coalition of groups dedicated to ending the ruling Gabonese Democratic Party’s 47 years in power.
In an overture to the elder statesmen of the ruling party, some of whom have complained of being sidelined since Omar Bongo succeeded his father as president in 2009, the decree named former prime minister Paul Biyoghe Mba as first deputy prime minister and health minister.
Madeleine Berre, head of Gabon’s business chamber, was named as minister for trade, and small- and medium-sized companies.