Timeline: Gabon

BBC News Online, Wednesday 21 March 2001, 12:40 GMT

A chronology of key events:

1470—Portuguese arrive in what is now Gabon.

1839—Local Mpongwe ruler signs away sovereignty to the French.

1910—Gabon becomes part of French Equatorial Africa.

1958—Gabon votes to become autonomous republic in the French Community.

1960—Gabon becomes independent.

1961—Leon Mba elected president.

1964—French forces restore Mba's presidency after crushing military coup.

1967—Bongo becomes president after Mba dies.

1973—Bongo converts to Islam and assumes the first name of Omar.

Political pluralism

1990—Opposition parties legalized, accuse the government of fraud in parliamentary elections held in September and October.

1991—Parliament adopts a new constitution which formalises the multiparty system.

1993—Bongo narrowly wins presidential election, the first held under the new multiparty constitution; opposition accuses government of electoral fraud.

1996—Governing Gabonese Democratic Party wins significant majority in parliamentary elections.

1998—Bongo re-elected to a seven-year term.