Gabon: Noureddin Bongo Arrested, Former Regime Officials Questioned

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Noureddin Bongo

In a surprising turn of events in Gabon, Noureddin Bongo, the son of former President Ali Bongo, now finds himself incarcerated. He was interrogated by the prosecutor and a magistrate on Tuesday, September 19th. Additionally, around ten high-ranking officials have been questioned. The Republic’s prosecutor, André Patrick Roponat, provided more details regarding the detention of former associates of the ousted President Ali Bongo.

The arrest of Noureddin Bongo Valentin, who had previously served as a coordinator at the presidency and later as a strategic advisor to his father within the PDG party, is sending shockwaves through Gabon. Some had even considered him a potential successor. However, he is now behind bars, having been charged and placed in provisional detention, notably on charges of “high treason” and “active corruption,” as announced by Libreville’s prosecutor, André-Patrick Roponat.

A Series of Interrogations

Following the coup d’état on August 30th, about ten high-ranking officials were also interrogated by the prosecutor. Most of them faced charges such as “high treason against the institutions,” “embezzlement of public funds,” “organized international financial malpractice,” “forgery and use of false documents,” “counterfeiting the president’s signature,” “active corruption,” and even “drug trafficking.”

Among those questioned were Ian Ghislain Ngoulou, former chief of staff to Ali Bongo, Mohamed Ali Saliou, the former deputy chief of staff to the ousted president, and his brother Abdoul Océni, Jessye Ella Ekogha, former presidential spokesperson, Steeve Nzegho Dieko, former secretary-general of the PDG, and Cyriaque Mvourandjami, political chief of staff to Ali Bongo.

Initially detained on September 15th, their custody was extended. Yesterday, they were all once again interviewed by the prosecutor, along with Kim Oun, a close advisor to Sylvia Bongo, and a financial director from Libreville’s city hall. After revisiting the facts, the prosecutor issued a requisition and referred them to the investigating magistrate, who conducted further interviews on the same day.

Late into the evening, Magistrate Leïla Biam questioned them all. Most of them have been remanded in custody. However, according to a judicial source, Steeve Nzegho Dieko has been placed under house arrest.

Serious Charges

According to the Republic’s Prosecutor, André Patrick Roponat, twelve individuals were referred to the prosecutor’s office on Tuesday. Seven of them have been remanded in custody, as reported by our correspondent in Libreville, Yves Laurent Goma, who attended the prosecutor’s press briefing today. Among those remanded are Noureddin Bongo Valentin, Ian Ngoulou, the chief of staff for Noureddin, and two Oceni brothers, one of whom served as the deputy chief of staff to the ousted president. Jessye Ella Ekogha, the former presidential spokesperson, also finds herself on the list of individuals detained.

The charges against them are even more substantial than those initially announced by the military spokesperson on the day of their arrest on August 30th. These include disrupting the operations of an electoral college, counterfeiting and using official institution documents, falsifying the president’s signature, complicity in embezzlement of funds, corruption, money laundering, and association with criminal conspirators, among others.

Out of the twelve accused individuals, two have been exonerated. They are domestic staff members, while three have been placed under house arrest due to insufficient evidence. Investigations are ongoing, and the Republic’s prosecutor has warned that further arrests are imminent.

Soukaina Sghir

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