Propping Up Africa’s Dictators

"We cannot assure our development on our own," stated France’s pet dictator and Africa’s longest-serving ruler, Omar Bongo. The Gabonese leader was talking about national economic development, but he might just as well have been talking about his own personal economic development. Transparency International’s French chapter singled out Bongo, who died this month at 73 after ruling his country for 41 years, for a spectacular misappropriation of state funds. The lawsuit, lodged via civil party petition, charges Bongo, Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Congo, and Teodoro Obiang of Equatorial Guinea of acquiring vast patrimonies in France including expensive real estate, capital, villas, and cars that cannot be justified by official income.