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Vol 40 No 22

Published 5th November 1999


Digging deeper holes

Debts and corruption are rocking President Bongo's African emirate

A massive hole in Gabon's public finances - some say of more than US$350 million - is at the heart of its growing financial and political crisis. By the end of last year, arrears to foreign creditors were estimated at 160 billion CFA francs ($256.4 mn.). They have probably doubled this year. President Omar Bongo's government also has arrears of CFA 100 bn. to local banks. With an oil-fired gross national product per head of $4,000, Gabon is one of Africa's wealthiest states. Yet most people live in poverty and a damning new report from the United Nations Development Programme says social services are collapsing.

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