April 13, 2024

Gabon junta frees ousted president Ali Bongo over ‘health reasons

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Gabon’s military leader, Gen. Brice Oligui Nguema, says former president Ali Bongo, who was toppled in an August 30 coup, has been freed from house arrest.

The junta also announced the creation of a transitional constitutional council. Colonel Ulrich Manfoumbi Manfoumbi, spokesperson of Gabon’s Committee for the Transformation and Restoration of Institutions, declared on Gabon National Television that, for health reasons, Bongo has been released and can seek medical treatment abroad.

Bongo had a stroke in October 2018, which left him physically impaired with difficulty moving his right leg and arm. He frequently visited foreign hospitals for treatment, according to Gabon’s military junta.

However, the military junta announced Bongo’s freedom after Abdou Abarry, head of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa, met with the deposed leader in Libreville.

Abarry said Bongo is in good health and wants the preservation of peace and social cohesion in Gabon. Jean Christophe Nang, a secondary school teacher in Bitam, a commercial town on Gabon’s northern border with Cameroon, said military leader Nguema—a first cousin of Bongo who led the ousted president’s security team—should have prohibited Bongo from leaving Gabon.

Gabon needs Bongo to provide information on the large fortune his family and friends have amassed from the misuse of public funds and corruption in oil exploitation deals, Nang said. He added that Nguema should watch out because Bongo, whose family has ruled for close to 60 years, and his supporters may have plans to destabilize Gabon.

In conclusion, Bongo came to power in 2009 following the death of his father, Omar, who had led the central African country since 1967. Gabon’s opposition says the family ruled with an iron fist and confiscated most of the oil-producing nation’s wealth.

written by @enock katamba

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