Gabon: Bongo’s Uncle Wants the ailing President out of Power


President Ali Bongo’s uncle, Jean-Boniface Assélé says he would want to see the president hand over power as his health continues to deteriorate.

Bongo, 60, suffered a stroke in Saudi Arabia on October 24, 2018, and has since shown little signs of recovering. His dwindling health raises concerns about his capacity to govern the country. And while his henchmen have maintained sealed lips, it is the President’s uncle who now suggests that Bongo should give way.

"If it was up to me, Mr. Assélé, as an individual, I would go to Ali [Bongo] to tell him:" you are sick, hand over your power to your people, telling them that you are going to take care of yourself and when you come back… you are still young, you could take back the reins of power because you have a people who love you and you have the country that you defend," Assélé who also happens to be a retired army general said during a radio interview.

The retired General said if he had the opportunity, he would bring the Bongo family together and advise the President to leave power.


Jean-Boniface Assélé and President Bongo when the Leader was in Good Health

"If it were only for me, I would see everyone else in the family for a chat with Ali [Bongo] to convince him to go for treatment, because we need him. Let him leave power to the people. Let the people organize, but that he (Bongo) is assured of decent living conditions, like all heads of state in the world. Why don't we say it? Where is the harm in that?” he wonders.

He went further to say he did not know where Bongo was and insinuated that he might have died. He said he was concerned that any discernible doubts about the president’s ability to lead could unleash violent demonstrations. “I don’t want that,” he said.

Bongo’s mother, Joséphine Kama Dabany was incensed by the General’s declarations.

“Leave my son alone,” she said in a radio show.

“Anyone seeking the downfall of my son will have to kill me first,” she continued.

Bongo came to power in 2009 after the death of his father, Omar Bongo who had at the time governed the Central African oil producing nation for nearly 42 years. Bongo father and his son have thus governed the country for more than half a century.

In 2016, Bongo beat opposition candidate Jean Ping in a hotly contested presidential poll. Mr. Ping claimed the vote was rigged.

Bongo has frequently come under censure from critics who accuse him of using the country’s vast oil and mineral resources to enrich himself and his family, instead of developing the country. Another presidential election is scheduled for 2023, but it is not clear if Bongo will seek reelection.