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"[He] was a self-proclaimed nature lover in a country with the largest percentage of untrammeled virgin jungle of all the nations in the Congo basin. Sandoungout in Haut Ogooué in the 1961 parliamentary election choosing not to run for election in his own right; Sandoungout was elected and became Minister of Health. Bongo's fortune has repeatedly come under the spotlight.
After Cuban President Fidel Castro stepped down in February 2008 Bongo became the world's longest-serving non-monarch ruler. He was re-elected in extremely controversial 1993 presidential election and again in the subsequent elections of 1998 and 2005 with his respective majorities increasing and the opposition becoming more subdued on each election. Omar Bongo was promoted to key positions as a young official under Gabon's first President Leon M'ba in the 1960s before being elevated to Vice-President from 1966 to 1967 eventually succeeding M'ba to become Gabon's second President upon the latter's death in 1967.