In a significant development following the dramatic coup that ended Gabon’s 55-year Bongo dynasty rule, Sylvia Bongo Ondimba Valentin, the wife of deposed President Ali Bongo Ondimba, has been Jailed facing serious allegations of embezzlement of public funds.
The latest twist in this political saga unfolded late on Wednesday when Sylvia Bongo was taken into custody. She had previously been under house arrest in the capital, Libreville, since the coup on August 30.
The coup leaders allege that the former head of state and his inner circle manipulated election results, leading to Sylvia Bongo’s subsequent money laundering, forgery, and falsification of records charges filed on September 28.
The coup, which deposed President Ali Bongo Ondimba, has stirred both domestic and international attention, with many characterizing it as a liberation movement rather than a traditional military coup.
Ali Bongo had held power in the central African nation since 2009, following the death of his father, Omar Bongo, who had ruled Gabon for nearly 42 years.
The putschists assert that Sylvia Bongo and her son, Nourredin Bongo Valentin, have effectively run the oil-rich country over the past five years and have allegedly misappropriated public funds. Nourredin Bongo Valentin himself is currently detained on corruption charges.
Lawyer Francois Zimeray, representing Sylvia Bongo, strongly condemned the legal proceedings, stating, “We condemned this illegal procedure. There is a difference between justice and arbitrary actions, between the law and revenge.”
Gabon, the third-richest nation in Africa in terms of per-capita GDP, remains starkly divided, as the World Bank reports that one in three Gabonese citizens lives below the poverty line.
The political developments in the country continue to captivate the world’s attention, with ongoing investigations and legal proceedings expected to reveal more about the alleged misconduct within the former presidential administration.