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For Ali Bongo, the evil eye

In the aftermath of the new year, facetious Gabonese had fun posting selfies on social networks by exaggerating their eyes. One way to make fun of the brief speech delivered on 31 December by the head of state, Ali Bongo Ondimba, whose curiously dilated eyes had then intrigued his fellow citizens.

Monday morning, Bongo would have had, in principle, good reason to widen even more eyes, discovering the quadruple officers who tried to take power in Libreville. But in reality, it's been more than two months since the 59-year-old President is no longer able to see for himself what is happening in his country.

Silence

Stroke victim at the end of October in Riyadh, he was first hospitalized on site at the King Fayçal Hospital, before being evacuated a month later, at the end of November, in Rabat, Morocco, at his friend's childhood home. King Mohammed VI, where he is still, protected from the outside world by a hand-picked entourage. And it was from this place of convalescence that he sent his wishes to his fellow citizens. Apparently, the putschists, who briefly seized the seat of the Gabonese radio and television Monday at dawn, were not convinced by this short performance. And that's even what would have motivated their action.

Since the announcement of his stroke, the state of health of Bongo has actually fueled incessant speculation, all the more justified as the entourage locked all information. While he was still in Riyadh, some rumors had even given him for dead. At the beginning of December, after a disturbing radio silence, Bongo reappears suddenly in two videos, in Rabat, where he is seen conversing with the king of Morocco. But no one will know what the two men talk about since these images are silent and finally raise more questions than answers.

By showing this time, in the video of December 31, a president speaking clearly, his relatives hoped perhaps to close the debate. It was visibly too little. Or too late. For whatever the final outcome of this coup attempt, the prolonged absence of the strongman of the country has acted as a revelation of the political decay into which this small oil state of Central Africa sinks since the last presidential election. of 2016. Badly elected, after a poll disputed by the observers present (especially those of the European Union), Bongo has actually imposed by force to remain at the head of a country where his family has been monopolizing power for more than half a century. The deadly attack, at the end of August 2016, on the headquarters of his main challenger, Jean Ping, whom many consider to be the "real" elected president, had already constituted a case of violence hitherto unpublished. Since then, many opposition figures, including MP Betrand Zibi, are still imprisoned without trial.

"Brutal"

It is this same democratic denial that illustrates the way in which the president of the Constitutional Court modified the Constitution in mid-November to make up for the prolonged absence of the Head of State after his stroke, by adding a paragraph on the cases of '"Temporary unavailability". It is true that the irremovable president of the court for 25 years, Marie-Madeleine Mborantsuo, is the former mistress of Ali's father, Omar Bongo, who reigned for forty-one years. Promoted suddenly guardian of the temple, Mborantsuo is since 2014 in the collimator of the French justice which suspects it of embezzlement and money laundering. Like many family members in the "ill-gotten gains" investigation conducted by Paris judges.

Ali Bongo "Can be brutal. He is diabolical, without a state of mind ", explained less than a year ago Robert Bourgi (former adviser to Omar Bongo out of the bank with the son) in the documentary the Bongo Clan, a French story. The state of health of Ali Bongo may be hypothetical, the country shows, however, signs of fever quite predictable.

Maria Malagardis

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