Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Department of Odd Timing

May 18th, 2009 · 4 Comments

gabonlimoAfter 42 years at the helm of Gabon, President Omar Bongo appears to be easing his way out the door. The official reason is declining health, but Microkhan finds it odds that Bongo seems to have taken ill after a French court lowered the investigative boom, in response to a complaint by Transparency International. The anti-corruption watchdog as long been on Bongo’s case, primarily about his lavish taste in European homes:

The African leaders stand accused of embezzlement, misuse of public funds and money-laundering in relation to “the acquisition of very substantial property and assets in France,” said the plaintiff’s lawyer William Bourdon when he announced the suit.

Transparency International had filed suit twice before, in March 2007 and July last year, to denounce the Gabonese president’s acquisition of luxury homes in France, sparking a wave of protests from his supporters at home…

Bongo and his family owned 33 properties in France, including a villa in Paris bought in 2007 for 18.8 million euros (24 million dollars), and that Sassou Nguesso owned at least three vast properties in the French capital.

Bongo is also mighty fond of fine automobiles; he owns one of only two Stutz Royale Limousines in existence (above); the other is in the garage of the king of Saudi Arabia.

You will likely be unsurprised to learn that Bongo has amassed these treasures despite ruling a desperately poor country, where an estimated 70 percent of the population live on less than $1.25 per day. That must make tough financial sledding for the workaday residents of Libreville, Gabon’s capital; it is currently ranked as the eighth most expensive city in the world, ahead of London and Geneva.

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4 Comments so far ↓

  • Jordan

    One does tend to wonder why such people are so bad at being circumspect. They have an amazingly effective role model in the form of Equitorial Guinea’s Obiang Ngueme Mbasogo. The degree to which that man has Equitorial Guinea under his thumb combined with the lack of international recognition of the level of repression within the country are nothing short of astounding.

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @Jordan: I remember reading “Tropical Gangsters” a year or two ago and being astounded by Obiang’s obvious avarice and brutality. And I was even more astounded to discover that he was still in power, two decades after Klitgaard’s time there. Tragic, as well as (as you note) completely off the Western radar.

    Microkhan will do what he can to correct that.

  • Old-School Strongman Sheds Mortal Coil

    […] Microkhan is big enough to admit when we were wrong. And so we must eat a bit of humble pie regarding Gabonese president Omar Bongo, who apparently wasn’t faking his illness. Last month, we opined that the timing of Bongo’s medical leave seemed curiously perfect, given that he was under French investigation. […]

  • Livin’ It Up in Kiev

    […] is certainly well-off by his nation’s standards, but it’s not like he’s pulling a pulling a Bongo on his […]

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