Gabon: government rejects Bongo family’s allegations of “torture”

Gabon: government rejects Bongo family’s allegations of “torture”

The Gabonese government has firmly rejected accusations of torture and kidnapping brought by the family of former President Ali Bongo Ondimba. The new authorities are threatening legal action against the authors of these statements deemed to be slanderous.

The Gabonese Minister of Communication and Government spokesperson, Laurence Ndong, rejected this Wednesday the allegations of torture and kidnapping made by the Bongo family's lawyers. On the national television channel “Gabon 1time “, she described the accusations as “unfounded” and a “clear desire to put pressure on the justice system and damage the image of the new authorities.”

In response to these accusations, Laurence Ndong also threatened to file a complaint against the authors of the allegations. “ The Government of the Republic therefore reserves the right to take legal action against the authors of these slanderous and false denunciations damaging the image of Gabon.“, she said.

These statements follow a press release published Tuesday by the lawyers of former president Ali Bongo Ondimba, François Zimeray and Catalina de la Sota, who claimed that their client and his two sons had started a hunger strike to protest against their “sequestration” and “acts of torture” that they would have suffered. The lawyers also announced that they had filed a complaint in Paris for “unlawful arrest, sequestration aggravated by acts of torture and acts of barbarity”.

Bongo family lawyers claimed that Noureddin Bongo had been “tortured repeatedly” and that his mother, Sylvia Bongo, had been forced to attend these “barbaric acts”. They also reported that Sylvia Bongo had been the victim of physical violence.

As a reminder, Ali Bongo was overthrown by a coup d'état on August 30, 2023. A few days later, General Brice Oligui Nguema, leader of the putsch, was sworn in as president of the transition, with the promise of “return power to civilians » via “credible elections“. General Nguema had justified the takeover by declaring that he wanted “avoid a bloodbath” and put an end to “massive corruption” and to a “catastrophic governance” after fifty-five years of reign of the Bongo dynasty. The new authorities then announced that former President Ali Bongo was free to leave the country or stay there.