Africa’s political dynasties: How presidents groom their sons for power


Congo-Brazzaville’s President Denis Sassou-Nguesso has appointed his son Denis-Christel as a cupboard minister – a transfer that has revived media hypothesis that he has a dynastic succession in thoughts.

Not that such a transition appears to be like imminent. Elected to an additional time period in March, after ruling the nation for all however 5 of the previous 41 years, there isn’t any signal of the 77-year previous head of state shedding his urge for food for wielding energy himself.

But if Denis-Christel does finally step into his father’s sneakers, this may verify Congo-Brazzaville’s alignment with an more and more prevalent sample in Central Africa.

In neighbouring Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba is the son of Omar Bongo, who dominated from 1967 to 2009, whereas within the Democratic Republic of Congo Joseph Kabila dominated for 17 years after succeeding his assassinated father Laurent-Désiré as head of state in 2001.

Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang – in energy since deposing his tyrannical uncle Francisco Macías Nguema, the nation’s first head of state, again in 1979 – has already put in his son, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, as vice-president, in pole place to succeed him.

And after Chad’s President Idriss Déby died final month – reportedly from wounds incurred in battle with rebels – his son Mahamat, a four-star military basic, quickly emerged because the chief of the interim ruling navy council.

And now there are even rumblings a couple of doable household succession in Cameroon, the place an nameless “residents’ motion” marketing campaign has begun to advertise the picture of Franck Biya, son of the 88-year-old President Paul Biya, who isn’t but halfway by his newest seven-year time period.

Cameroon’s President Paul Biya, seen along with his spouse Chantal, has been in energy since 1982

Sources near Franck – who has at all times stayed out of politics, pursuing a personal sector enterprise profession and even taking care to not develop into concerned with bids for public sector contracts – point out that he has nothing to do with the marketing campaign. However nor has he requested the campaigners to desist, or issued a categorical denial of any ambition to succeed his father.

After all, political dynasties are removed from uncommon – have a look at the Bushes and Kennedys within the US.

And presently Uganda is seeing a social media marketing campaign touting Common Muhoozi Kainerugaba, son of present head of state Yoweri Museveni, as a possible governing social gathering candidate for the following election in 2026.

This photo taken on August 27, 2012, shows Brigadier Muhoozi Kainerugaba (L), new commander of the Ugandan Special Forces Command, at the Sera Kasenyi training centre for Special Forces in Kampala on August 16, 2012.

Common Muhoozi Kainerugaba graduated from the UK’s Royal Navy Academy Sandhurst in 2000

However the phenomenon is especially entrenched in west-central Africa’s petro-economies, the place oil revenues typically lubricate the networks of political patronage and empire-building.

It might probably additionally gas rivalries and resentments inside ruling dynasties and their typically advanced webs of private connection.

There are rumours of palace intrigue among the many Obiangs, with some members of the family mentioned to favour an alternate presidential son, Oil Minister Gabriel Mbega Obiang Lima.

Gabon: First household intrigues

However it’s not nearly private points. The 2016 Gabonese election noticed Ali Bongo face off in opposition to former international minister and African Union Fee chief Jean Ping.

He occurs to be the previous accomplice of the president’s sister Pascaline, making Ali the uncle to their two kids.

Nonetheless, Ping ran on a essentially political agenda, presenting himself because the statesman face of opposition who may oversee reform and true democratisation.

Jean Ping (C), surrounded by supporters waving Gabonese flags, gestures as he speaks on October 29, 2016 on the Human Rights Esplanade, at the Place du Trocadero in Paris, one month after incumbent president's victory in Gabonese presidential election was controversially validated by the constitutional court

President Ali Bongo is uncle to 2 kids of his rival Jean Ping (above)

And 5 years later, he has nonetheless not acknowledged defeat in what turned a bitter contest, amid severe questions concerning the credibility of the ultimate polling returns that narrowly determined the result within the president’s favour.

However Mr Bongo isn’t wanting again. He already appears to be getting ready the following step, having appointed his son Nourredin Bongo Valentin as “basic coordinator of presidential affairs” in late 2019.

The earlier yr Mr Bongo had suffered a stroke throughout a go to to Saudi Arabia and his chief of workers, Brice Laccruche Alihanga, turned more and more distinguished in managing affairs throughout his lengthy sickness and convalescence.

However finally the president reasserted management, with Mr Laccruche demoted, sacked after which arrested over corruption allegations, which he denies.

Argentinian soccer player and four-time FIFA Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi (C) is given a tour during the start of construction of the Port-Gentil Stadium by the President of Gabon, Ali Bongo Ondimba (R) in the Ntchengue district of Port-Gentil on July 18, 2015. Gabon went on to host the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations soccer tournament.

Argentinian footballer Lionel Messi visited Gabon in 2015 on the invitation of President Bongo (proper)

In the meantime, Nourredin was put in on this essential new put up the place he sees his father every single day, is charged with “transmitting his needs” to the remainder of the federal government machine and has a free hand to intervene throughout the board on his behalf.

Amid the uncertainty over Ali’s well being, some speculate that Nourredin is being lined as much as take over. He studied on the UK’s elite Eton Faculty, the London Business Faculty and London College’s Society of Oriental of African Research, and has a youthful modernising picture.

French corruption probe

Far to the north, amid the fragilities of a Chadian political scene that simply weeks in the past misplaced the authoritarian Idriss Déby who had dominated it for 3 a long time, big challenges face his son Mahamat.

Along with his junta colleagues he should attempt to preserve the regime’s conventional navy and clan supporters onside, however he’s additionally below home and worldwide stress to open up political dialogue and reply to calls for for significant democratisation.

Mahamat Idriss Deby pays his respects near the coffin during the state funeral for his father Chadian president Idriss Deby in N'Djamena, on April 23, 2021

Common Mahamat Idriss Déby was the pinnacle of the presidential guard when his father was killed

Issues of a unique type concern the Equatorial Guinean regime which stays completely dominant however has been a core goal of a French judicial probe into allegations that household belongings have been purchased in France with the proceeds of corruption.

Each the Bongos and the Nguessos have additionally been focused: the 13 people formally positioned below investigation additionally embrace a lawyer who labored for the late President Omar Bongo and a number of other French residents.

In 2015 French judges ordered the seizure of two properties within the Paris area whose actual proprietor, they believed, was Mr Sassou-Nguesso’s nephew Wilfrid Nguesso; that they had already ordered the seizure of round 15 luxurious vehicles. Wilfrid was positioned below formal investigation.

Chadian President Idriss Deby (R) speaks with Congo's President Denis Sassou Nguesso during the opening ceremony of the African Union summit at the Palais des Congres in Niamey, on July 7, 2019.

Chad’s late President Idriss Déby (R) is seen with Congo-Brazzaville’s President Denis Sassou-Nguesso in 2019

In 2016 Mr Sassou-Nguesso launched authorized motion in a bid to have circumstances associated to him thrown out, whereas the federal government spokesman described the circumstances as an “immense manipulation” geared toward discrediting the president.

However the French judges pressed on and in mid-2017 they positioned the president’s daughter Julienne and her husband Man Johnson, one other nephew, Edgar, and a former sister-in-law, Catherine Ignanga, below formal investigation.

They recognized €18.4m ($22.4m; £15.9m) in allegedly suspicious transfers that had taken place in 2008-09.

Equatorial Guinea and its luxurious sports activities vehicles

However it’s the Equatorial Guinean Vice-President, Teodoro, who has attracted most consideration, with police raiding his luxurious residence at 42 Avenue Foch in Paris way back to 2012 and seizing a number of vehicles, together with two Bugatti Veyrons and a Rolls Royce Phantom.

Teodoro himself was finally sentenced to pay a €30m superb.

His authorities went to the Worldwide Court docket of Justice, arguing that the Avenue Foch mansion, valued at €107m, was its embassy in France and thus shielded from seizure by diplomatic immunity.

A picture taken on September 28, 2019 at the Bonmont Abbey in Cheserex, western Switzerland shows a 2015 Ferrari LaFerrari (L) and a 2010 Bugatti Veyron EB 16.4 Coupe model car during an auction preview by sales house Bonhams of sport cars belonging to the son of the Equatorial Guinea's President

Sports activities vehicles owned by Equatorial Guinea’s vice-president have been auctioned in Switzerland

Nonetheless, final December the Court docket rejected that argument. And laws that has been going by the French parliament will present for the proceeds realised from such sequestered belongings to be put aside and used to finance growth tasks within the nation involved.

But such preparations will have to be tightly structured. After the authorities in Geneva, Switzerland, started authorized motion in opposition to Teodoro and two different people for alleged cash laundering and the mismanagement of public belongings, the case was finally settled in September 2019 by an public sale of 25 luxurious automobiles, with the proceeds reserved for charitable growth causes.

A Lamborghini Veneno Roadster fetched SFr8.2m ($9.1m; £6.5m and a blue and black carbon Koenigsegg One offered for SFr4.6m. With seven Ferraris, two different Lamborghinis, 5 Bentleys, a Maserati, an Aston Martin and a McLaren on the block the public sale realised whole proceeds of SFr23.4m.

About half have been purchased by a German seller, appearing for an unnamed shopper.

5 months later, on 22 February final yr, a now-deleted image was posted on Teodoro’s Instagram account, exhibiting him driving by the streets of the Equatorial Guinean capital Malabo – within the blue and black Koenigsegg.

Regardless of the current pattern in the direction of presidential dynasties in some international locations, it’s not clear how sustainable they may show in an more and more youthful and urbanised Africa the place expectations of change are rising.

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Paul Melly is a Consulting Fellow with the Africa Programme at Chatham Home in London.

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