Gabon President Ali Bongo on Thursday promoted his defence minister, Rose Christiane Ossouka Raponda, to prime minister on Thursday, the first time a woman has held the role in the country.
Ossouka Raponda, 56, is the sixth prime minister appointed since Bongo succeeded his father in 2009. Her first job is to form a new government after her predecessor, Julien Nkoghe Bekale, stepped down earlier in the day.
The president confirmed the appointment, through a message on his verified twitter handle which reads:
Today I appointed Ms. Rose Christiane Ossouka Raponda as Prime Minister. For the first time in the history of #Gabon , a woman will hold this office. I thank his predecessor, @Pm_JulienNkoghe, which fulfilled its mission with loyalty and efficiency.
She will take on two major challenges: declining oil production and prices, which have weighed on growth in recent years, and the Covid-19 pandemic. The Central African country has registered nearly 6 000 cases to date.
Ossouka Raponda will also have to navigate a delicate political scene that was shaken up when Bongo, 61, had a stroke in 2018, followed by a long medical leave abroad, during which there was a brief coup attempt.