Wood at Gabonese port

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Gabon is residence to a part of the world’s second-largest rainforest

Gabon’s President Ali Bongo has sacked his vice-president and his forestry minister amid a timber-smuggling scandal.

No cause was given for the sackings nevertheless it comes after 300 containers of kevazingo wooden – which is illegitimate to export – had been found at a port.

There’s demand for the wooden in Asia the place it’s used to make furnishings.

Practically two-thirds of Gabon is roofed in forests and the timber business is essential for the nation’s financial system.

What’s so particular in regards to the wooden?

Kevazingo, which is best often known as bubinga or guibourtia, is a reddish kind of wooden present in West Africa.

Some bushes in Gabon are greater than 500 years outdated and they are often thought of sacred by native individuals.

However timber from kevazingo is extremely valued in components of Asia, the place it’s used to make high-end furnishings and music devices.

The federal government banned the export of kevazingo in 2018 in an effort to guard the nation’s assets.

How a lot wooden went lacking?

Final month, 300 containers of the valuable timber had been found on the port of Owendo, outdoors the capital, Libreville, able to be exported.

They had been present in depots belonging to Chinese language firms, falsely labelled, allegedly with the forestry ministry label.

Then the containers mysteriously disappeared. About 200 of them have since been recovered.

What does this imply for Gabon?

The authorities have vowed to pursue these accountable in an investigation often known as “kevazingogate”.

The dismissal of Vice-President Pierre Claver Maganga Moussavou and Forestry Minister Man Bertrand Mapangou are believed to be linked to this investigation, though no official cause for his or her sackings, or particulars on their alleged involvement, got.

Some 13 different officers had been suspended final week and a Chinese language businessman was named because the mastermind behind the unlawful operation.

In latest days, there had been requires Mr Mapangou to resign. A doc which appeared to bear his signature – authorising a Chinese language firm to export the containers – had been circulating on-line. He mentioned it was a faux doc and has denied any involvement within the scandal.

Some observers in Gabon counsel that the true cause for Mr Maganga Moussavou’s sacking might have been his ambition. When President Ali Bongo was recovering from a stroke final 12 months, Mr Maganga Moussavou is alleged to have expressed the will to tackle extra duties. He has not commented on the timber scandal.

President Bongo, now again within the entrance seat, has signalled he intends to take a robust stand and pursue this investigation.