Sylvia Bongo Ondimba Valentin, the wife of Gabon’s deposed president Ali Bongo Ondimba, has been imprisoned on charges of money laundering, forgery, and falsification of records. This development follows her house arrest since a late August coup that ousted the Bongo dynasty’s 55-year rule. Ali Bongo, who had ruled Gabon since 2009, was overthrown by military leaders shortly after being declared the winner of a presidential election, which was widely criticized as fraudulent by the opposition and coup leaders.
The coup leaders accuse Sylvia Bongo of manipulating her husband, who suffered a severe stroke in 2018, and alleged that she, along with one of their sons, had misused public funds. Their eldest son, Noureddin Bongo Valentin, has also been charged with corruption and embezzlement of public funds, along with several former cabinet members and ex-ministers.
Sylvia Bongo had been isolated from her husband, prompting complaints from her French lawyers, who described her situation as a “hostage-taking.” Her recent imprisonment is seen as part of efforts by the new government to address corruption and alleged mismanagement of public funds in the oil-rich nation.
A Surprising Twist: Gabon’s Ousted President Ali Bongo Freed by Military Coup Leaders
Ali Bongo was elected president after his father, Omar Bongo, died in 2009, who had ruled for nearly 42 years. Gabon is known for its high per-capita GDP in Africa but has a significant portion of its population living below the poverty line.
The new military ruler, General Brice Oligui Nguema, who took over after the coup, has pledged to combat corruption. He has established a civilian government and appointed members of a new national assembly and senate for a transitional period, with elections scheduled for an undisclosed date. The fall of the Bongo dynasty was viewed by many in Gabon as a liberation rather than a military coup.
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