Until recently, only two autocratic presidents had ruled Gabon since its independence from France in 1960. The recent president of Gabon, El Hadj Omar BONGO Ondimba - one of the longest-serving heads of state in the world - had dominated the country's political scene for four decades. President BONGO introduced a nominal multiparty system and a new constitution in the early 1990s. However, allegations of electoral fraud during local elections in 2002-03 and the presidential elections in 2005 exposed the weaknesses of formal political structures in Gabon. President BONGO died in June 2009. New elections in August 2009 brought Ali Ben BONGO, son of the former president, to power. Despite political conditions, a small population, abundant natural resources, and considerable foreign support have helped make Gabon one of the more prosperous and stable African countries.