GEROGIA, Gabon— Gabon’s election is set for Tuesday, with a presidential runoff between incumbent President Gbenga Bissou and opposition candidate Emmanuel Macron, both of whom have pledged to pursue an “independent” political solution to the country’s debt crisis.
The runoff will likely be close, as Macron, a centrist, is seen as the more likely winner in a country that has long been dominated by the ruling party.
The ruling Socialists, who hold the power in parliament, are in a position to form a government with Bissom’s centrist party.
“Gabon needs a president that can get things done, not one who has promised to leave Gabon in the dust,” said Emmanuel Jadame, a professor of politics at the University of the West of England.
Macron, who took office last year, has been in power since 2012 and has promised a political overhaul.
He has promised more liberalization of the economy, increased investment and more freedom of the press.
Bissoms ruling party, known as the Bissas, has focused on attracting foreign investment and has also said it would abolish a $10 billion state loan program for businesses.
Macron has said he will cut the state budget to $2.2 billion by 2020, a number that would not change the countrys overall spending or the size of its debt.
In January, the country of 7.2 million people signed a $3.5 billion deal with Russia to sell $500 million worth of fuel to be used by the country during its COP21 climate summit.
The deal with the Russian company will help cut greenhouse gas emissions.
The United States is among the countries that have called for Bissoses government to take a harder line against Russia, including in its recent deal to help pay off the debt incurred by the Russian state.
On Tuesday, Bissomo’s ruling party will be hoping to win over voters who have been deeply frustrated with the political system and the president’s refusal to address the country s debt crisis, said Jadames professor of economics.
“If the president can’t manage to get things going, and he has no plan for the economy and nothing to show for his efforts, then we’ll see how the voters react,” he said.