World, Africa

Gabon marks 60th independence anniversary

Celebrations downplayed due to coronavirus pandemic in Central African country

Rodrigue Forku   | 17.08.2020
Gabon marks 60th independence anniversary file photo


YAOUNDE, Cameroon 

Gabon on Monday marked its 60th independence anniversary as the president promised new jobs for youth.

This year the festivities were low-key due to the coronavirus outbreak that has killed over 50 in the Central African country, with more than 8,000 confirmed infections.

President Ali Bongo, in a televised speech, outlined the state's health efforts during the pandemic, and praised those who are engaged in the fight against the disease.

"Unprecedented financial efforts have been made in the health sector to provide Gabon with new high-performance tools'' to fight against coronavirus, he said. ‘’These structures, even after the current health crisis, will sustainably strengthen the technical platform of our country. Improving the quality and access to healthcare for my compatriots has always been and will remain one of my primary concerns.’’

The head of state said 30,000 additional jobs will be created, thanks to two new special economic zones in the cities of Lambarene and Franceville, as well as the processing of wood locally.

Meanwhile, the annual military parade, usually held with much fanfare, was replaced by a restricted ceremony at the presidency. Most people stayed at homes, while officials and military officers were seen with masks.

With a population of just over two million people, the tiny country along the Atlantic coast is rich in mineral resources such as diamond, gold, petroleum, natural gas and iron ore. It gained independence from France on Aug. 17, 1960.

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