France should return Gabon’s stolen wealth

Publié le par hort

Bongo financed all of the political parties in France but what I found the most disturbing was the fact that he  financed the Nation Front party, whose  xenophobic message is directly targeted against African people. Had it not been for African money the National Front in France would never have reached a score 20%. I hope that Bongo never rests in peace. Hort

http://www.monitor. publish/Ejiet/ France_should_ return_Gabon_ s_stolen_ wealth_86786. shtml

France should return Gabon’s stolen wealth
Austin Ejiet
Sunday, June 21, 2009

Last month a French corruption inquiry accused the then Gabonese President, Omar Bongo Ondimba, of two grievous crimes: salting away a sinful proportion of Gabon’s wealth in an estimated 71 foreign bank accounts in France alone and buying off whole streets of the prime real estate in Paris and Nice; and secondly, of encouraging similar kleptocratic tendencies among the leaders of the republics of Congo and Equatorial Guinea, Denis Sassou- Nguesso and Teodoro Obiang Nguema respectively. The three West Africa countries are prodigiously endowed with crude oil deposits the combined proceeds of which could have wiped out Africa’s entire foreign debt. Instead, that oil wealth had become the preserve of a rapacious troika.

The French cannot pretend to wake up in May 2009 to investigate what they themselves created as far back as February of 1964.  On February 18, 1964, a group of progressive members of the Gabonese armed forces overthrew the neo- colonial regime of President Leon M’ba in which Albert Benard Bongo was vice president.The young army officers immediately released all political prisoners, promising sweeping political and economic reforms. But the next night, French paratroopers sent by General de Gaulle arrived in Gabon and reinstated Leon M’ba as president. On the latter’s death from natural causes in 1967, Bongo became president.

Under an Islamised president Omar Bongo, Gabon became the Jewel of French imperialism in Africa, a staging post for the latter’s colourful adventures which included the much vaunted but worthless support for the Biafran secessionist movement between July 1967 and January 1970; the invasion of Guinea- Conakry on November 22, 1970; the attempt to gain a beach-head in Cabinda in 1975; and the disastrous mercenary attack on Benin on January 16, 1977 organised by Bob Denard in coordination with the French secret services. Along with three other African presidents, Omar Bongo openly supported Apartheid in South Africa at the behest of France, often busting UN-sanctioned embargoes against arms shipments to South Africa and Savimbi’s UNITA.

But France was reaping more than just strategic dividends from Gabon. It controlled the modern sector of the economy to the tune of 65 per cent and enjoyed a total (no pun intended with the Total oil company) monopoly of Gabon’s vast oil reserves. In exchange for Omar Bongo’s astonishing largesse, the French helped keep him in power and allowed him to plunder the remnants of his country’s resources to the fullest extent of his obscene appetites.

So when France came up with a belated enquiry into the president’s corrupt excesses, they did not fool anybody. President Bongo lashed out at his former colonial masters the way Marshal Mobutu had lashed out at Belgium following the latter’s description of him as a “Ferdinand Marcos”. To underscore his displeasure, Bongo checked himself into a Spanish hospital rather than a French one. The Gabonese people too, a few of them at any rate reportedly jeered and booed both current French president Nicolas Sarkozy and his predecessor Jacques Chirac, yelling: “We don’t want you – leave!” “No to France!”

Nevertheless, the departed president was buried last Thursday at his home town appropriately named “Franceville”. The president had forgotten to build a pyramid or at least a mausoleum to house his remains, persuaded perhaps that he had more time to enjoy this side of eternity.

Let France do the right thing. A coffin, they say, has no pockets. That half-hearted commission of enquiry should be turned into a genuine and thorough treasure hunt for the late president’s hidden wealth.

If the French put their mind to it, they can track down Omar Bongo’s last penny. That money should, of course, be handed back to the Gabonese people, after a genuine democratic electoral exercise has found and installed, not a political spare tyre, but a popularly elected successor who should serve a maximum of two terms


Publié dans contemporary africa

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