The public in Gabon appears to support the military junta’s arrest and detention of the son of ousted president Ali Bongo and members of his cabinet. Military officials in the capital, Libreville, charged them this week with crimes, including treason and corruption.
Marches have been held in several towns in a show of solidarity with junta’s action.Andre-Patrick Roponat, the state prosecutor for Libreville, reads names and tells Gabon's National Television that two of the 12 persons arrested on August 30, shortly after Gabon's military seized power from Ali Bongo, will regain their freedom.
He says three people, including Sylvia Bongo Ondimba, ousted president Ali Bongo's wife, are being held under house arrest. He was speaking Wednesday evening.
Gabon's government accuses Sylvia of attempting to protect people involved in crime but has given no details.
Roponat said Ali Bongo's eldest son, Noureddin Bongo Valentin, former presidential spokesman Jessye Ella Ekogha, and five other close aides of the deposed leader are being held in provisional detention.
Roponat says the suspects will answer charges including the orchestration of violence and fraud during elections, falsification of the signature of the president of Gabon, corruption, embezzlement, money laundering, illegal procurement and possession of wealth, treason and several other crimes.
State TV showed video of government troops searching the homes of the former cabinet members and seizing trunks, suitcases and bags filled with banknotes. The junta has not disclosed how much money they believe was held by the former officials, but the ministry of justice says much of the money was recovered from the deposed president's eldest son.
Gabon’s political opposition has always accused Noureddin of planning to take power from his father.
Ali 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, activists and civil society groups have marched in several towns, including Libreville, Franceville and Port-Gentil this week in support of the arrests.
Zacharie Myboto is the leader of Gabon's opposition National Union Party and a former presidential aspirant. He spoke to Gabon state TV Thursday.
He says by prosecuting people who pilfer state resources and drag the image of Gabon in the mud, military leader Nguema has begun what he [Myboto] intended to do if he had been elected in 2009, when he ran for president of Gabon. He says all Gabon citizens should assist the junta to free the country and bring back stolen money.
Gabon's opposition and civil society groups that support the military junta say members of the ousted president's family are suspected to have acquired real estate empires and stashed huge amounts of money in foreign banks, which could remove the oil producing nation and its citizens from poverty and reduce the gap between the majority poor and the few rich.
But for an announcement that Ali Bongo can leave Gabon to be treated abroad, the junta has not commented publicly on the ousted president's alleged ill-gotten wealth.