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Gabon: Former chief of staff of President Ali Bongo arrested

Brice Laccruche Alihanga, the former all-powerful chief of staff of Gabon’s President Ali Bongo Ondimba, was arrested on Tuesday as part of a major anti-corruption investigation.

Just a few weeks ago, Brice Laccruche Alihanga had considerably irritated many of the ruling caciques by leading a thundering “republican tour” throughout the country in the absence of Ali Bongo convalescing after a stroke. He was then dismissed from the presidency in early November, after a clear improvement in health and a return to power by the head of state or his close entourage, according to analysts.

Since then, he had become invisible, although at the head of a ministry with no real power. After a dozen or so personalities close to him had been arrested, questioned at length by the investigators and then, for 13 of them, imprisoned, Brice Laccruche Alihanga “was arrested this morning at his home”, as well as two ministers considered as his relatives and dismissed from the government, like him, on Monday evening. They are Tony Ondo Mba, former Minister of Energy, and Noël Mboumba, former Minister of Petroleum.

Cabinet Director for more than two years, Brice Laccruche Alihanga, 39, had literally become the strong man in power since Ali Bongo was weakened by a stroke in October 2018. He had since been convalescing abroad, then in Gabon.

Brice Laccruche Alihanga was dismissed to everyone’s surprise at the beginning of November from his position as Chief of Staff to the President, before being immediately appointed head of a mysterious ministry “in charge of monitoring human investment strategy and sustainable development objectives”.

“In all, and not counting this morning’s arrests, there have been 13 people under arrest since the beginning of the anti-corruption operation,” the prosecutor said. “Two are on provisional release, six have been exonerated” and the former cabinet director’s own brother, Gregory Laccruche, mayor of Akanda, a commune bordering Libreville, “is still in police custody”, according to Prosecutor Roponat.

 

 

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