The Gabonese presidency has defended the recent appointment of the president’s son as a top presidential aide stressing that it was more for his competence and experience than any other reason.
The 27-year-old Noureddin Bongo Valentin, was last Thursday appointed the general coordinator of Presidential Affairs, to “assist the President of the Republic in the conduct of all State affairs,” a government statement said.
The presidency dismissed claims that the first son was been propped up politically to take over from his ailing father who spent months abroad after suffering a stroke last year.
In remarks to the media, presidential spokesman, Jessye Ella Ekogha, said the president needed people he could trust to be close to him in order to effectively execute affairs of state hence the appointment.
Ekogha said in defense of the appointment of Noureddine: “Why was Mr. Noureddine BONGO VALENTIN appointed to such a position? For two reasons. One, he has all the skills required.
I remind you that he graduated from two of the most prestigious institutions in the world, the Eton College, the Institute of Oriental and African Studies, the London School of Economics in particular.
And that he has solid professional experience – he was Director General of Olam Gabon, the largest private company in the country – and a perfect knowledge of public affairs and the functioning of the state.
He cited the example of the American president Donald Trump who has appointed his children in top government positions he believes they are competent enough to handle.
“First, in Gabon, in the past, we have already experienced such a situation. Then, if we look elsewhere in the world, we see that it is a common thing. An example? I give you two.
The president of the world’s leading power, the United States, Donald Trump, has his main allies in daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband, Jared Kushner, both occupying important official positions in the White House”.
Ali Bongo, weakened for a year after a stroke, had himself been promoted to prominence in the 2000s, then elected in 2009 after the death of his father Omar Bongo, at the time serving president for 42 years.
The spokesman also dismissed talk of the general coordinator of presidential affairs being a new creature. He said it existed in the governance structure as far back as 2003 when Noureddine’s grandfather was president.