Supporters of Gabonese president Ali Bongo believe that their candidate “is the choice of reason” as he launched his election campaign in the Owendo commune on  Friday. The Gabonese leader who is favourite to win a third term, will face 18 other candidates in next month’s presidential election.

Celestin Mba Ndong, one of those attending the rally in Owendo, describes Bongo as “the choice of reason”.  “Already, through his speech, we understand perfectly that he is the true president, he has a strong message, he said this, he intends to continue strong actions.” Ndong said.

Bongo’s family has ruled the oil-rich West African state for 55 years. The 64-year-old, who took over from his father Omar Bongo Ondimba in 2009, officially announced in July that he would run again for president. The Gabonese Election Centre validated 19 of the 27 candidacy applications received, five more than in 2016.

This is no issue for one of his supporters Gabin Mombo, an activist and IT specialist. “I have the impression that for this year there is even a plagiarism of our social program, and today you saw it, convinced (Gabonese Democratic Party, PDG) PDGists like me came to give massive support to their unwavering choices, notably to President Ali Bongo Ondimba.”