The wife of ousted Gabonese President Ali Bongo was jailed late on Wednesday her lawyer said, as she faces charges of money laundering, forgery, and falsification of records.
Sylvia Bongo Ondimba Valentin had been under house arrest since the August coup which ended nearly 60 years of rule by the Bongo dynasty.
On the streets of the Gabonese capital, Libreville, there was a positive reaction by some to the news that she is in prison.
“I’d prefer she stay there for life,” said shopkeeper Judith Milebou Ndzamba.
“Why am I saying this, because they made the Gabonese people suffer too much. We’re suffering, we’re having a hard time, and the money was hidden with them.”
Retired Libreville resident, Bitegue Bi Ngong, agreed.
“While Sylvia Bongo is under arrest, we need to recover all the money they and their family stole over 60 years,” he said.
“We’re poor because of it. We only have two million inhabitants. Look how poor the country is, because of one family.”
The Franco-Gabonese former first lady and one of the couple’s sons are under investigation as part of a wider inquiry into alleged massive embezzlement of public money.
Legal sources say their eldest son, Noureddin Bongo Valentin, has been detained, as well as 6 former cabinet officials.
Sylvia’s lawyer says a request for a hearing in 10 days’ time has been granted, at which she will be able to appeal for her client’s release.
Coup leaders accuse her and Noureddin of having manipulated the former president, who is suffering the after-effects of a serious stroke in 2018.
Ali Bongo, who had ruled the central African country since 2009, was overthrown by military leaders moments after being proclaimed the winner in a presidential election.
The election result was branded a fraud by the opposition and the military coup leaders, who have also accused his regime of widespread corruption and bad governance.
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.
Source: Africa News