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Gabonese president Bongo in first Paris trip since election

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2009-11-20

Gabon's President Ali Bongo was in France on Wednesday for his first trip since succeeding his father, who was France's closest ally in Africa and the key figure in a rather dubious network of trade and political ties known as "FranceAfrique".

AFP - Gabon's President Ali Bongo was expected in France on Wednesday for his first trip since he succeeded his father, who made Paris almost a second home as leader of the oil-rich former French colony.
  
Bongo's trip comes less than three weeks after French judges threw out a lawsuit alleging that, under his late father, members of his family bought several luxury Paris properties with embezzled Gabonese public funds.
  
The elder Bongo, Omar Bongo Ondimba, was France's closest ally in Africa throughout his 41-year reign and the key figure in the murky network of trade and political ties known to anti-corruption activists as "FranceAfrique".
  
But the attempt by graft watchdog Transparency International to bring a case against three African presidents for their allegedly ill-gotten gains caused Bongo senior to temper his affection for Paris in his final years.
  
He died in Spain in June, and his son and former defence minister Ali Bongo took over after an election that opposition leaders claimed was marred by fraud and French interference. Paris denies it influenced the vote.
  
Now that judges have refused to pursue the complaint, observers say, Bongo junior is ready to resume business as usual with his French allies and is due in Paris for a three-day visit and talks with President Nicolas Sarkozy.
  
Bongo is expected to have lunch with Sarkozy on Friday.

Date created : 2009-11-18

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