Gabon: Exiles Deliberate Their Return, Cautious Yet Hopeful

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During his swearing-in ceremony in Gabon, General Oligui Nguema assured exiles that they could return without fear. While many are interested in returning, they are choosing not to rush the decision.

Alfred Mabika, a former minister and banker, is among the exiles considering a return. He had faced allegations of embezzling 100 billion CFA francs during his tenure as CEO of La Poste, allegations he had consistently labeled as politically motivated. Having sought political refuge in France, he heard General Oligui Nguema’s appeal.

“For every exile, the dream is to return to their homeland. Last June, my mother was feeling down. I had to travel 2,000 kilometers, deep into Congo, to see her. I was just 1 kilometer from the border. That’s what exile is like. Is it tomorrow? In a week? In two weeks? I don’t know, but in principle, I will come to Gabon. I am very happy at the thought of reuniting with my country after nearly eight years of absence,” he emphasized.

Guy Roger Nzamba, a former international football player who had competed in France, Italy, and the United Kingdom, fled Gabon in late 2016 following a police raid on his home due to his declaration of support for opposition figure Jean Ping. Nzamba deeply misses his homeland but remains cautious about returning.

“On a personal level, I miss the country immensely. I want to return. Considering the recent speeches, it does make me lean towards returning. However, for prudence’s sake, I prefer to wait a little longer. We need to see how long the transition will last. What will happen during this time? Will he relinquish power? Will he run for election? These are questions we would like answers to,” he pondered.

General Oligui Nguema had also pledged to grant amnesty to “prisoners of conscience.” Subsequently, several detainees were released, a development that might provide reassurance to those still contemplating their return.

In Libreville, the transition process continues to unfold. The designation of members of the transitional parliament is eagerly anticipated. The drafting of a new constitution and a national conference are also on the horizon. Meanwhile, a new government is in place, including figures from the diaspora, some of whom had been in exile, such as Laurence Ndong, the government spokesperson, and Mays Mouissi, who has assumed the role of Minister of Economy.

Soukaina Sghir

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