THE SUPPORTERs of the ousted former President of Gabon are calling for international support to help secure his release and that of his family.
On 31 August army officers seized power in the African republic, ending the 55-year-old reign of power by the Bongo family.
The family – President Ali Bongo Ondimba – along with three of his sons, his daughter-in-law and her three youngsters who are all under the age of ten – were abducted by the Republican Guard and taken to separate locations.
And as there has been no contact with many of the family members since the first week in September, there is a huge amount of fear for their safety.
A spokesman for the family said that many of the extended family who have been detained have no idea why they have been singled out.
“These people – which include young children – are being held simply because they are related to the former president,” he said.
“They are being denied the opportunity to have any contact with the outside world so we have no idea where they are – or how safe they are.”
The president’s son, Nourredin, went on trial without being allowed any legal representation and is now in the country’s Libreville prison while the whereabouts of wife and young children remain unknown.
His mother, Sylvia, who has also been accused of corruption is now being held in the women’s section of the same prison.
Some information that was smuggled out about the family alleges incidents of torture and of confessions about alleged money laundering forced at gunpoint.
General Brice Clotaire Oligui Nguema, a cousin of Ali Bongo, is now the new head of state and despite claims that the former president is now free to leave, the majority of his family’s whereabouts are unknown.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has been asked to intervene in the Bongo family’s plight and help to get them extradited from the country.
At the same time an appeal has also been made to President of France, Emmanuel Macron, to add his voice to the campaign, as the family have French citizenship.
“There are a lot of people very concerned about what is happening to the Bongo family and where some of the members are being held,” said a spokesperson.
“We are calling on the international community to put pressure on the new regime and allow them to leave the country.
“There are young children involved here who need protecting.
“The new leadership say they want to change and return power to the people, they also need to demonstrate some clemency and let these innocent people go.”