The arrests of former ministers from the era of Ali Bongo, who was overthrown in a coup, continue. Following the detention of former First Lady Sylvia Bongo Ondimba, her son Noureddin Valentin Bongo, and other close associates of the former head of state, the military shows no signs of stopping. Multiple sources have reported the arrest of the former influential Minister of Water and Forests, Lee White.
The arrest of Lee White was confirmed by a judicial source and the National Union of Water and Forest Professionals (Synapef). The former minister was apprehended by the General Directorate of Investigations. Another source indicated that he was summoned for questioning before being released late Monday afternoon.
Lee White, a close ally of former President Ali Bongo, faces accusations of complicity in the misappropriation of forest resources. According to Synapef, he allegedly granted two permits, one covering an area of 57,000 hectares and the other 97,000 hectares, while the maximum permit size, according to the Gabonese Forest Code, is 50,000 hectares. The minister is also reportedly being pursued for embezzlement of funds.
He is not the only former minister from Ali Bongo’s government to face legal scrutiny since the military took power on August 30th. Former Minister of Petroleum Vincent de Paul Massassa and his former colleague from the Ministry of Public Works, Léon Armel Bounda Balonzi, were presented to the prosecutor’s office last Friday.