Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping (not pictured) during a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, April 19, 2023. Ken Ishii/Pool via REUTERS/File photo

LIBREVILLE, July 9 (Reuters) – Gabon President Ali Bongo will run for re-election in August, he said on Sunday, in a bid to extend his family’s 56-year grip on power in the Central African country.

“Because nothing matters more than your success, I am announcing today that I am a candidate”, Bongo told a small crowd of cheering supporters.

Elections are scheduled for Aug. 26.

Bongo, 64, has been president of the oil-producing nation for two seven-year terms since succeeding his father Omar, who died in 2009 after ruling since 1967. Gabon has no constitutional term limits.

Both of Bongo’s election wins were disputed by the opposition, who said he won fraudulently. His 2016 victory triggered deadly clashes between police and protesters during which the parliament building was gutted by fire.

Bongo’s re-election bid was thrown into doubt when he suffered a stroke in October 2018 and was flown to Morocco for medical treatment. He spent three months abroad but returned shortly after a coup attempt was thwarted in his absence. (Reporting by Gerauds Wilfried Obangome; Writing by Edward McAllister; Editing by Hugh Lawson)