In a significant development following the recent coup that ousted Gabon’s long-standing President Ali Bongo Ondimba, his wife, Sylvia Bongo Ondimba Valentin, has been officially charged with “money laundering” and several other offenses.
The charges against Sylvia Bongo Ondimba Valentin were issued by an investigating judge on Thursday and were disclosed by Andre Patrick Roponat during an announcement broadcast on state television channels on Friday.
Sylvia Bongo Ondimba Valentin had been under house arrest in the capital city of Libreville since the dramatic coup that shook the oil-rich nation on August 30. Furthermore, Roponat confirmed that her house arrest order remains in effect.
Earlier this month, one of Sylvia Bongo Ondimba Valentin’s legal representatives had raised concerns about her detainment, describing it as “incommunicado outside any legal framework.” The legal proceedings against her are expected to shed light on the allegations and provide a platform for her defense.
Notably, this legal action is not isolated. It follows the charging of their son, Noureddin Bongo Valentin, who has been accused of corruption and embezzlement of public funds. Several former cabinet members and two ex-ministers have also faced similar charges in connection to corruption during the previous administration.
Gabon’s political landscape was drastically altered on August 30 when President Ali Bongo Ondimba was overthrown by military leaders. This coup transpired just moments after Bongo was declared the winner in a presidential election.
The election result had been met with allegations of fraud from the opposition, a claim that was supported by the military coup leaders. In addition to allegations of electoral fraud, the coup leaders have accused Bongo’s regime of widespread corruption and poor governance.
Ali Bongo Ondimba had assumed the presidency in 2009 after the passing of his father, Omar Bongo, who had held power for nearly 42 years. The political turbulence in Gabon has now opened a new chapter in the nation’s history, marked by legal proceedings and investigations into alleged financial misconduct by key figures in the previous government.