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Africa

President Bongo's party to review ties with former colonial ruler

Video by Laure DE MATOS , Carla WESTERHEIDE

Latest update : 2009-03-08

Officials in the former French colony of Gabon called for a review of relations with Paris. Last month, France froze nine of Bongo's bank accounts after a court ordered the president to return payment made to him to release a jailed Frenchman.

AFP - Gabon's ruling party accused France on Saturday of trying to destabilise the country and called for a review of its relations with the former colonial power.
   
The party "calls on the government and the Gabonese parliament to thoroughly re-examine the cooperation accords between France and Gabon," said a statement read out on public television.
   
Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG) spokeswoman Angele Ondo read out the statement which went on to accuse France of having conducted for several months "a vast campaign to destabilise Gabon."
   
The ruling party denounced what it called the "judicial pounding" that President Omar Bongo Ondimba and his family had been subjected to with a series of complaints filed in French courts.
   
It accused the French media of aiding the campaign against Bongo and warned the French government it could lead to "a serious deterioration of the historic ties between France and Gabon."
   
Seventy-three year-old Bongo is Africa's longest serving head of state, having ruled the oil-rich but socially impoverished former French colony since 1967.
   
A close associate of a string of French leaders, Bongo's often murky financial dealings have in recent years complicated Libreville's relations with Paris.
   
Last month France froze nine of Bongo's bank accounts after a court ordered the president to return a payment made to him to release a jailed Frenchman.
   
The accounts hold more than four million euros (five million dollars), according to the lawyer for the French plaintiff, who paid Bongo 457,347 euros to free his father from prison.
   
A French police investigation has reportedly established that Bongo and his family own at least 33 luxury properties in France, including a villa in Paris bought in 2007 for 18.8 million euros (23.7 million dollars).
 

Date created : 2009-03-08

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