Gabon: Ali Bongo dismisses Vice-President, forestry minister

President Ali Bongo Ondimba Tuesday dismissed his Vice-President and the minister of forestry, a statement of the presidential office said without elaborating on the rationales.

Maganga Moussavou has been Vice President of the Central African country since 2017 after the restauration of the position. Moussavou, from the opposition lost to Ali Bongo during the 2016 controversial elections.

Guy Bertrand Mapangou also in charge of climate fell from grace despite being a key player in the Ali Bongo’s regime. The minister had been spokesman of the cabinet also the prominent position of interior minister.

Though the statement does not provide reasons for their dismissals, the decision came in the backdrop of wide spread calls for Mapangou’s ejection from the government over a timber scandal connected to the smuggling of a tree species banned for export.

Authorities early March discovered 5,000 cubic meters of Kevazingo wood in two warehouses belonging to Chinese companies at Owendo port, in capital Libreville, reports say.

A part of the reddish timber, known locally as bubinga or guibourtia, was found in containers with false labels from forestry ministry, indicating Okoume, a species approved for export.

Gabonese authorities last year decreed a ban on Kevazingo export to protect the tree viewed by locals as sacred but much valued in parts of Asia mainly in the furniture industry.

After the discovery, head of the forest ministry at the port and his team have been arrested for alleged involvement in the smuggling.

Also late April, more than 300 containers of Kevazingo went missing but 200 were recovered later after being found in depots of foreign companies.

The African country covered mostly by forest has lost greatly because of illegal export of timber to foreign countries mainly to Asia.

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