Catholic Bishops in Gabon Declare Two Days of “prayer and penance” for Peaceful Elections

A poster announcing the national prayer days for peaceful elections in Gabon. Credit: Libreville Archdiocese

Catholic Bishops in Gabon have announced two days of national “prayer and penance” for peaceful general elections in the Central African nation scheduled to take place in August.

In a statement shared with ACI Africa Thursday, July 6, members of the Episcopal Conference of Gabon (CEG) call for active participation in the two-day spiritual exercise set to begin on Friday, July 7. 

“In the prevailing social context, and conscious of the challenges of the times for our country Gabon, we declare Friday 07 July 2023 and Saturday 08 July 2023: days of prayer and penance for our country,” CEG members say in their statement dated July 5.

They add, “During these days, we wish to implore the mercy of God the Almighty Father for all the victims of the tragedies recorded during this year, so that kidnappings, blood crimes and injustices cease, and for the smooth running of the elections in a climate of peace, truth, justice and transparency.”

Making reference to Prophet Ezekiel, Catholic Bishops in Gabon say, “The community of Christians recognizes itself to be truly and intimately in solidarity with the human race and its history.”


In the statement that Archbishop Jean-Patrick Iba-Ba of Libreville signed on behalf of CEG members, the Catholic Church leaders explain the choice of the two days. 

“Friday is traditionally a day of penitential practices in the Catholic Church, in memory of the Passion and death of Our Lord Jesus Christ on Good Friday,” they explain.

To be observed under the theme, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand: Church in Gabon, arise! Serve your God with fear”, some of the activities will include “penance, prayers of the Rosary, the Chaplet to Divine Mercy, praise, Holy Mass and intercessory prayer for the nation,” CEG members say.

Gabon is expected to hold presidential, legislative and local elections on August 26.

Incumbent  Ali Bongo Ondimba is reportedly favorite to win against a divided opposition even though he has not officially declared his intention to run for reelection.

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The opposition has failed to agree on a single candidate for the presidential election, and some 15 candidates have expressed interest in the top job in the Central African nation.

Ali Bongo, whose powerful Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG) holds strong majorities in both houses of parliament came to power in 2009. He was narrowly re-elected in 2016. In 2018, suffered a stroke that kept him on the sidelines of politics for months as he recovered.

In April, the Parliament voted to amend the constitution and reduce the president's term from seven to five years.

Earlier this year, CEG members warned politicians against the dangers of holding on to power.

“I would like to warn you against excess and the idolatry of power”, CEG President, Bishop Jean Vincent Ondo Eyene said in a statement dated January 29.


He posed, “What's the point of winning an election if fundamental human rights and the salvation of souls are compromised? What's the point of even wanting to win elections if it's not to serve the Gabonese people and enable Gabon to develop?"

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.