One week prior to the Revolution, Vice President Yembit came to Fougamou to speak to the voters. Twice in his extemporaneous speech he pointed to and highly praised the five of us Peace Corps Volunteers in the audience.
Yembit addressed his constituents, "Look at the Americans there, there, there", while pointing at us. "They know how to work with a machete, a hammer, a trowel, a motor. They know how to make airplanes, skyscrapers, ships and autos because they know how to work".
About a half a dozen Frenchmen in the crowd were less than pleased. They were especially upset when Yembit threatened to throw out of Gabon those French who had no concern for the nation of Gabon. "We will take their tractors and push their houses over", he said.
Yembit was on a roll. He went on to say, "If anyone is dealt with unfairly, he or she may write to the Vice President or President and we will take action. If a Sous Prefect, Gendarme, Frenchmen or other foreigner wrongs you, he will be immediately sent out of Fougamou."
He closed his lengthy and highly popular speech, interrupted by frequent cheers, by exhorting his fellow citizens to vote in the upcoming elections. "You do not need to know how to write, just put an X on the box", he said.
Few realized that the vote was a sham. Opposition legislators had been unable to campaign for office since Gabon had imposed a fuel embargo, apparently, to provide gasoline to only Mba’s chosen legislators. Also, to make it impossible for the opposing legislators to gain control, he dissolved the National Assembly and gerrymandered the country for the upcoming elections, eliminating almost one-third of all the legislative positions. This was a highly risky move that was similarly tried by the former president of Congo, Brazzaville. In that case, he was quickly booted out by the military and was forced to flea to France.