Gabon: The son of the deposed leader apprehended on charges of treason and corruption

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The son of Ali Bongo Ondimba, along with several associates of the deposed Gabon president, have been formally accused of high treason and corruption and have been placed in custody.

This information was disclosed by the state prosecutor in a statement to AFP on Wednesday.

Noureddin Bongo Valentin, the eldest son of Bongo, and Jessye Ella Ekogha, a former presidential spokesperson, are among those who have been charged and detained, as well as four other individuals closely associated with the former leader, as confirmed by Libreville prosecutor Andre-Patrick Roponat.

The outcome of these charges has been disputed by the opposition and the leaders of the military coup, who have also alleged widespread corruption and poor governance during Bongo’s regime.

On the same day as the coup, soldiers apprehended one of Bongo’s sons, five high-ranking cabinet members, and his wife, Sylvia Bongo Valentin.

National television broadcast footage of the individuals arrested, alongside suitcases allegedly filled with confiscated cash from their residences.

Sylvia Bongo Valentin is presently under house arrest in the capital, Libreville, purportedly for her safety, according to authorities. However, her legal team contends that she is being held arbitrarily.

Ali Bongo, who himself was under house arrest for several days following the coup, has since been allowed freedom of movement and the ability to travel abroad, as stated by the country’s new military leader, General Brice Oligui Nguema, on September 6th.

General Oligui has been sworn in as the interim president following his central role in the coup, which brought an end to the Bongo family’s nearly half-century rule.

He has pledged to organize “free, transparent, and credible elections” to reinstate civilian governance but has not specified a timetable for this process.

Shortly after assuming office, the new leader issued a stern warning to business leaders that corruption would no longer be tolerated in the country.

Ali Bongo assumed the presidency in 2009 following the death of his father, Omar, who had held power for nearly 42 years.

In 2016, French investigators began investigating properties owned by Omar Bongo’s family in France, suspecting that several family members had knowingly profited from a real estate empire valued at a minimum of 85 million euros ($87 million) acquired through fraudulent means.

Ten of Omar Bongo’s 54 children have faced charges related to concealing the misappropriation of public funds, according to a legal source based in Paris who spoke with AFP. It’s worth noting that, as a sitting head of state, Ali Bongo enjoyed diplomatic immunity.

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