Christiane Bitougat, General Secretary of the Gabonese teachers' union SENA, has been appointed Labour Minister of the new government of Omar Bongo on Jan 19. She is also a member of the Francophone teachers' union committee CSFEF.
In 1998, Christiane Bitougat set up a union for public workers, the "Union des Syndicats de l'Administration Publique et Para-publique", which became the biggest union in Gabon. Since 1998, Christiane Bitougat has been the very vocal President of USAP, as well as General Secretary of the teachers' union. Under her direction, the teachers obtained substantial improvements of their working conditions and public spending for education increased. Many schools were built and improved under her impetus. She also contributed to improve the national law on trade unions. As Labour Minister, she will have to deal with a grim situation: 42% of the active population is unemployed in Gabon. She will try to focus on the defense and creation of jobs. Her experience as member of the tripartite Socio-economic committee will come in useful. The elections, organised on 27 Nov, gave President Omar Bongo a new 7-year term. Omar Bongo has headed Gabon since 1967. In 1990, Christiane Bitougat actively took part in the national conference that ended the one-party state and injected some democratic flavour in the country.