By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network
NEW YORK. 23 September 2023 (IDN) — More bad news for the Bongo family, one-time rulers of the oil-rich nation of Gabon for nearly 56 years.
On the same day, a military coup removed President Ali Bongo Ondimba from power, soldiers arrested one of Bongo’s sons, five senior cabinet officials, and his wife, Sylvia Bongo Valentin.
State TV showed a video of government troops searching the homes of the former cabinet members and seizing trunks, suitcases, and bags filled with banknotes.
Prosecutor Andre-Patrick Roponat said those who were detained include Bongo’s eldest son Noureddin Bongo Valentin, and former presidential spokesman Jessye Ella Ekogha, as well as four others close to the deposed leader. Ex-President Bongo is reportedly in his private residence in Libreville.
The public in Gabon appeared to support the arrests and detentions. Gabon’s opposition, activists, and civil society groups marched in several towns, including Libreville, Franceville and Port-Gentil, to support the arrests.
Gabon’s opposition and civil society groups that support the military junta say members of the ousted president’s family are suspected of having acquired real estate empires and stashed huge amounts of money in foreign banks, which could remove the oil-producing nation and its citizens from poverty and reduce the gap between the majority poor and the few rich.
“The Gabonese just want to end the reign of a dynasty that has not improved their economic conditions in five decades. They did that through the ballot but got shortchanged,” says Oluwole Ojewale of the Institute of Security Studies.
Chris Ogunmodede, a foreign affairs analyst who lives in Dakar, Senegal, opined: “The ongoing events in Gabon, taking place in the wake of the coup in Niger, shines another spotlight on France’s dysfunctional relationship with its former colonies in Africa and the damaging ways Western support for autocrats on the continent is just as corrosive to democratic governance as the military coups they claim to oppose.” [IDN-InDepthNews]
Photo: Noureddin Bongo Valentin, the eldest son of the deposed President Ali Bongo Ondimba. Source: Financial Afrik.
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