In Gabon, the son of Ali Bongo named “coordinator of presidential affairs”
In the midst of the redistribution of cards to the summit of Gabonese power, President Ali Bongo Ondimba, who had succeeded his father, who had been in power for 42 years, ten years ago, called his eldest son to the helm of his the Presidency.
Updated at 11 pm GMT
At the end of a cabinet meeting, the government created Thursday the post of “general coordinator of presidential affairs”, assigned to Noureddin Bongo Valentin, the son of the president. Its mission: “to assist the President of the Republic in the conduct of all affairs of the State and ensure the strict application of its decisions”. He thus has a cabinet.
This announcement comes after the launch in mid-November, a large anti-corruption operation, called “Scorpion”, which led to the arrest of about twenty senior officials of the administration. And especially to that of the former all-powerful chief of staff of the presidency, Brice Laccruche Alihanga.
Becoming the real man of power during the long convalescence of Mr. Bongo who suffered a stroke a year ago, Mr. Laccruche, 39, was fired November 7 to surprise everyone after two years of service.
The head of state, in power for 10 years when he was elected after the death of his father Omar Bongo, is then considerably weakened by his stroke and disappears long months, recovering in Morocco and then appearing in public at on very rare occasions.
Falling as dizzy as the ascent
The dazzling political career of M. Laccruche then gives rise to many criticisms, in opposition as in some caciques of the regime. He launched a thundering “Republican Tour” summer across the country. He is then presented as Ali Bongo’s “intimate messenger”, far from the role and rank of a cabinet director.
In a few months, Mr. Laccruche places his relatives in key positions in the government at the mercy of many reshuffles, public administrations, and to the top of the security services.
But the fall finally turns out to be much more dizzying than the ascent. Without warning, he is thanked and appointed to head a ministry without power after his dismissal as chief of staff of Mr. Bongo. Several of his relatives are arrested, including his brother and his right hand, Ike Ngouoni, then spokesman for the presidency. All are suspected of “misappropriation of public funds”. Brice Laccruche is in turn arrested Tuesday, with two of his relatives, become ministers, and sacked, like him, the day before.
“Monarchization of Gabon”
The president then makes many changes, both in the judiciary and in the security services.
At the same time, the opposition and analysts argue that Noureddin Bongo would have an office at the presidential palace, close to that of his father.
Faced with this upheaval in Gabonese political life, part of the opposition continues to say that President Bongo, who has been multiplying for a few weeks appearances, obviously in better shape, is no longer able to lead the country.
The group of opponents Call to Action, which requires expertise on the health of the president since March, believes that “the impostures succeed each other at the head of the country.” He denounces Gabon’s “monarchization,” asserting, like the opposition press, that the recent upheavals reflect the “growing power of the wife,” Sylvia Bongo, “and the son of Ali Bongo” Noureddin.