General Brice Oligui Nguema, who has assumed control in Gabon following the ousting of President Ali Bongo Ondimba, has issued stern warnings to contractors implicated in the country’s pervasive corruption. He called upon them to exhibit “patriotism” and “dedication” to the nation’s development.
Update 3 Sep 2023: Reports suggest that General Nguema might share a familial connection with the former leader Ali Bongo, and the initial intention of the coup appeared to be to replace Ali Bongo with his wife’s son. However, the plan shifted when General Nguema managed to apprehend everyone within the family, and the top generals appointed him instead as the new leader.
Furthermore, the Western media’s lack of coverage regarding the coup can be attributed to the assurance that all existing contracts will be respected by the new military junta in control, meaning that business operations will continue as usual.
Whether the proceeds of these contracts will ultimately benefit the poverty-stricken majority is anyone’s guess at this point.
In a forceful address delivered to over 200 Gabonese business leaders summoned to the Presidential Palace, General Oligui proclaimed that recent audits had unveiled instances of companies overcharging the government.
He pledged that investigations would be revisited to ensure that these excess charges would be returned to the state. His message was conveyed with a resolute tone and an intense gaze, which was broadcast in full on state television channels.
Simultaneously, state television was airing repetitive footage showing the arrest of Noureddin Bongo Valentin, one of the deposed president’s sons, and other former high-ranking members of the presidential cabinet on the day of the coup.
The footage depicted trunks, suitcases, and bags purportedly filled with billions of CFA francs seized from their residences.
General Oligui, the head of the presidential guard set to be inaugurated as the “president of the transition” on Monday, passionately remarked,
“It is difficult to perceive, at this stage, your commitment and your patriotism when it comes to the development expected (by the country) by our compatriots. I am speaking the truth to you, which should enable each and every one of you to truly question yourselves”
He continued, “I am speaking candidly, urging each of you to engage in introspection,” emphasizing that he would not tolerate the prevailing circumstances.
He encouraged a shift in mindset among contractors, urging them to operate as responsible entities under his leadership, rather than opportunistic ventures created solely to exploit situations for overbilling and personal enrichment, as has been observed.