Wife of Gabon's deposed leader Ali Bongo jailed

Thursday October 12 2023
Sylvia Bongo Ondimba Valentin

The wife to Gabon's deposed president Sylvia Bongo Ondimba Valentin, who was accused of allegedly embezzling public funds. PHOTO | AFP


The wife of Gabon's deposed president Ali Bongo Ondimba, under house arrest since a coup in the country in late August, has been jailed, her lawyer said on Thursday.

Sylvia Bongo Ondimba Valentin, suspected of allegedly embezzling public funds, was jailed late on Wednesday, her lawyer Francois Zimeray told AFP, condemning the "arbitrary... illegal procedure".

Bongo's wife was charged on September 28 with money laundering, forgery and falsification of records.

Sylvia Bongo has been under house arrest in the capital, Libreville, since the August 30 coup brought the curtain down on 55 years of Bongo dynasty rule.

Read: Gabon president placed under house arrest, calls for help

The putschists allege the former head of state and his entourage falsified the election results.


They accuse Sylvia Bongo and her son, Nourredin Bongo Valentin, of manipulating the former president, who has not fully recovered from a serious stroke in 2018.

They say the two have effectively run the oil-rich country for the past five years and have misused public money.

Nourredin Bongo Valentin has been placed in detention since the coup, charged with corruption.

"We condemned this illegal procedure," lawyer Zimeray said. 

"There is a difference between justice and arbitrary actions, between the law and revenge."

The public prosecutor in Libreville has not yet responded to an AFP request for comment.

Bongo, 64, who had ruled the country since 2009, was overthrown by military leaders moments after being proclaimed the winner in a presidential election.

Read: Ali Bongo and the danger of overstaying in power

Many saw it as an act of liberation rather than a military coup.

Ali Bongo was elected after his father Omar died in 2009 after nearly 42 years in power. 

Gabon is Africa's third-richest nation in terms of per-capita GDP but one in three people lives below the poverty line, according to the World Bank.