Sylvia Bongo Ondimba Valentin, the wife of Gabon’s deposed president Ali Bongo Ondimba, has been imprisoned following her house arrest since a late August coup, as reported by her lawyer Francois Zimeray.
She faces allegations of embezzling public funds, with charges including money laundering, forgery, and falsification of records filed against her on September 28.
The coup marked the end of the 55-year Bongo dynasty rule, with the coup leaders accusing the former president and his entourage of election result manipulation.
Sylvia Bongo and her son, Nourredin Bongo Valentin, are further accused of effectively governing the oil-rich nation for the past five years, allegedly misusing public funds. Nourredin Bongo Valentin has been detained and charged with corruption in connection with these allegations.
Lawyer Zimeray strongly criticized these actions, characterizing them as “arbitrary” and “illegal,” emphasizing the importance of distinguishing between justice and revenge.
As a background, Ali Bongo, who had held the presidency since 2009, was ousted by military leaders shortly after being declared the winner of a presidential election.
While some viewed this as a military coup, others saw it as a liberating move, marking the end of the Bongo family’s long-standing rule in Gabon. Ali Bongo succeeded his father, Omar, who had governed for nearly 42 years.
In late September, the son of Ali Bongo Ondimba and several allies of the ousted Gabon president were charged with high treason and corruption and placed in custody, the state prosecutor revealed to AFP.
Bongo’s eldest son, Noureddin Bongo Valentin and former presidential spokesman, Jessye Ella Ekogha, as well as four others close to the deposed leader, “have been charged and placed in provisional detention,” said Libreville prosecutor Andre-Patrick Roponat.
Gabon, despite its status as Africa’s third-richest nation in terms of per-capita GDP, faces significant economic disparities, with one in three people living below the poverty line, according to the World Bank.