Gabon’s Bongo drums up controversy with Oval Office visit
President Obama meets with President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon in the Oval Office Thursday.
June 9th, 2011
11:42 AM ET

Gabon’s Bongo drums up controversy with Oval Office visit

Washington (CNN) - When the president of the United States invites a world leader into the Oval Office it elevates the meeting and extends the warmest of embraces to his visitor.  That’s why Thursday’s meeting with President Ali Bongo of the West Central African nation of Gabon is raising eyebrows.

The oil rich nation of an estimated 1.5 million people has been ruled by the Bongo family for decades, but there have long been allegations of corruption.

A 2009 New York Times headline read: “Underneath Palatial Skin, Corruption Rules Gabon.”

The article detailed the lavish life of the Bongo family, which stands in stark contrast to the ‘have-nots…just around the corner.”

Pressed on the wisdom of the visit in light of swirling allegations, White House Spokesman Jay Carney said President Bongo is “making reform efforts which we support.”

“We do think it is appropriate for the president to meet with the leader of Gabon,” Carney said.

While Carney seemed to suggest thatGabon’s president had a “less than sterling” record, he touted that nation as an “important ally” in dealing with mutual interests in Libya, Ivory Coast and Iran.

A White House statement said the two leaders would discuss “strategic regional and bilateral topics of mutual importance, including the latest developments in the areas of security, democracy and economic growth.”

Coverage of the meeting is being limited to a pool of still cameras, even though Oval Office visits have been historically open to TV cameras and correspondents.

This tight access ensures a quiet photo op devoid of uncomfortable questions.

Topics: Africa • President Obama

soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. Liz Carter in Georgia

    WHAT ELSE IS NEW? Everything about this PRESIDENT, his WIFE, her agenda, his supporters, his friends, his famil, his VP, his administration, his directives, his choices of staff, his agenda policies, his diplomacy efforts, his domestic efforts, his plans and decisions, his guest lists, his reception lines, his goings, his comings, his food menus, his birth certificate, his religion, even his accomplishments, are systemicly diminished and have ALWAYS stirred up controversy of the OVAL OFFICE! IT'S NOT NEW!

    June 9, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • excitizen

      Wow Liz you have some severe anger issues! His menus and religion, his family. Hate just seems to eat you alive. Good luck with that. Therapy might be considered a good idea in your case.

      I know this will probably go over a lot of republicans heads, but since you all are the first to point out that the US can't afford to fix the problems of the world, wouldn't it be better to embrace leaders who are actually trying to institute reforms (before their citizens also protest), then going in with millions of dollars of military after the fact, or worse yet watching it happen with no action? Just a thought. Also, allegations are just that, allegations – not facts...

      June 9, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
      • XWngLady

        Don't waste your keystrokes excitizen....Save your reason and logic for someone whose mind is actually open enough to receive.

        June 9, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
      • excitizen

        XWngLady – sometimes I just can't help myself (teehee)

        June 9, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
      • C00lHandluke

        Why do legitimate points have to be chalked up to anger?? Like him or not this POTUS has taken every opportunity he possibly could to create controversy. If a republican had done half the controversial things that our president has done he would have been forced to resign.

        Now the the entire agenda has failed you and the politically like-minded I guess the only thing you can do is through out bs like "you must be angry. " Good luck with that. ..........

        June 9, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
    • Glenda

      When you watch stupid put his feet up crossed on top of the antique desk James Madison donated to the White House. And then see him grab his crotch when the American flag is raised. Would you call this a patriotic man or one who has no respect for the Past Presidents or history of the United States. He is either an idiot are is a very smart man out to destroy the U.S. Which is it???

      June 9, 2011 at 11:39 pm |
      • MrKnowsEverything

        I'm sorry, but you're the idiot. Go to and type in: "feet on resolute desk" and see how every president has had his picture taken with his feet up on that desk. Quit being ignorant and figure out why you are actually angry. My guess is that it if it wasn't for Plavix you'd be dead by now, and you still don't know how to be grateful.

        June 10, 2011 at 4:38 am |
      • Alex

        Antique desk from James Madison. Wow! I thought it was from England? Your hate is based on lies and prejudice, perhaps?

        June 10, 2011 at 7:32 am |
      • jean2009

        According to Wikipedia, the James Madison furniture designed by Benjamin Latrobe burned in the fire of 1814 (see War of 1812). There are a few pieces in the Red and Blue rooms. Many items in the Oval Office are reproductions of historical pieces, and the Resolute Desk has held the feet of about every president. It even had a door added for Franklin Roosevelt so no one could see his leg braces.

        So get over it.

        June 11, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • Glenda

      Liz, it is because he can't be forthright with everyone. He has to be badgered to produce his BC is it is legit. And I am not saying it is not. But what I wrote about his part in the Bin Laden case is the truth I have connections to the truth.

      June 9, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
      • jean2009

        He produced his BC in 2008 it has taken you until now to accept the fact the legal form is the one he first presented...not the one you harped about for 2 years.

        It is not his fault if you are the proverbial horse' that can be lead to water, but won't drink.

        June 11, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • John

      Liz, can you and some of these stupid Libs tell the rest of the site you are supporters of BO? It ia amazing how you have Libs talking down to other Libs on this post and they don't even know it...
      The best one was "can you tell me why you think BO is not good for the US". Maybe it has something to do with his actions and what he has done to this country.

      June 10, 2011 at 11:24 am |
  2. Liz Carter in Georgia

    If what we have been told about Gabon is true, again what else is new? His alleged lifestyle of corruption and power carries no more weight than any of the other nations corrupt heads of state and politicians, including the UNITED STATES! They sit up here on C-SPAN like they're doing today interviewing LEON PANNETTA, still trying to 'play act' a dog and pony show for public viewing of such deep concerns of our legitimacy in LIBYA, AFGHANISTAN and IRAQ. Can you say 'NATIONAL VITAL INTERESTS'? CORRUPTION!

    June 9, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • Glenda

      Sure it is wide open corruption in the White House. First place Obama is not his own man. He belongs heart and soul to George Soros. Second Leon Panetta needs to be questioned because he, Cates, Clinton and Petraues had to take it on themselves to order the hit on Bin Laden. Obama at the advice of Jarrett his aide of all things told him to say no three times in 48 hours of no hit. He went and played golf while the four decided what to do. This hit had been in planning for four months. So finally they went to Biden who said to leave his chicken butt out of it. Then Clinton and Cates told Panetta to give the order and they would back him. The rest is history other than the fact Bin laden was dressed in his mountain clothes with money and rations sewn into the clothing. He was ready to depart. Someone had given him warning of a possible hit. WONDER WHO??? Once the order was given they sent for Obama who came into the war room and went into a rage when he found out what was happening. He ordered an abort to his staff, but Petraues told him it was too late the Seals were on the ground. He then took him by the arm and set him down in the corner. There is nothing Obama can do about the insubordination because of the knowledge the Democrats have on him, citizenship, Soros and gangster connections in Chicago. Soros donated 2 billion dollars to the democrat party for Obama so they can't let it come out for it could destroy their party and Obama. SO DON'T PUT OUT ANY MORE OF THIS HOLIER THAN THOU, STUFF ABOUT YOUR OBAMA. DID YOU KNOW ALSO THAT IN 2014 THERE WILL BE NO MORE MEDICARE FOR OBAMACARE IS CALLING FOR IT TO FUND MEDICAID TO SUPPORT ALL THE ILLEGALS? WELL IT IS. SO WHAT IS LEFT FOR THE LOW INCOME PEOPLE WHO ARE TRYING TO MAKE IT. OBAMA AND SOROS MEANS TO BRING U.S. DOWN AND ARE WELL ON THEIR WAY. BEWARE LADY FOR YOU KNOW NOT WHAT YOU DO.

      June 9, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
      • George Washington

        You forgot that Obama is an alien trying to replace us with pod people.
        It's true, the Koch brothers told me so and paid me 1 trillion dollars to repeat it......

        June 9, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
      • excitizen

        You gonna go postal on us Glenda? or is that Liz Carter?
        Please seek professional help before you hurt someone or yourself. You are not of sound mind.

        June 9, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
      • XWngLady

        OMG. And these people actually vote....God help us.

        June 9, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
      • excitizen

        X – that's how Bush got 2 terms

        June 9, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
      • jean2009

        Isn't that amazing there she was ranting away and all of a sudden her caps lock key stuck in shout. She must have swilled a couple of gallons of that poisoned moonshine – tea while wearing her tinfoil hat, and it fried her brain and keyboard. Mercy!

        June 9, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
      • Glenda

        I knew there was no reason to warn baboons. Wait you'll find out what I said soon enough. I am not a Repuiblican, Tea Partier or anything else. One thing I damn am sure not, is a Democrat who supports Obama the fraud.

        June 9, 2011 at 11:43 pm |
      • Patcee

        I'd like to know why you think Obama is "bringing this country down." What is the reason? Does he just want to destroy the US? Your story doesn't go far enough. It's like reading a fairy tale and not ever knowing the ending.

        June 10, 2011 at 1:40 am |
      • Chris Marshall

        Glenda, i think you must be sick. Who now gives orders in the united states...Clinton, Gates, Petrause??? common, the US Armed forces swear allegiance to only the president and to carry out only his orders. If Obama didn't give the call then no one in the United States can. So get your facts straight

        June 10, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  3. Dipak Mahato

    That is the funniest headline I have ever seen on

    June 9, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • Willie

      Best comment

      June 9, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
  4. ted

    Same old stuff from the Repukelicans adn right wing wackos – always second guessing Obama because he is a scary democrat. Ya know, you Repthugs shoudl have been questioning Dubya Bush as he was raping and pillaging the world with his insane wars, but you were all comatose. YOu should have been pressing him on Iran but you were comatose. You all need to just shut up and let President Obama do his work the way he sees fit. He has repaired a lot of damage done by Bush and his war hawk adminstration.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    June 9, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • Glenda

      Man your not only stupid you're sick.

      June 9, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
      • excitizen

        pot calling kettle – line one kettle

        June 9, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • sithlord

      I think liberal propaganda is far worse than right wing. But they all should be called Republicrats because they are all full of crap. obama has started two wars as well (yemen, Libya) and everything he has done so far have just made all the crap worse. When will he address gas prices, food prices, outrageous inflation rates, unemployment, THE FRIKIN ECONOMY!!!!!!! You Liberals need to be more open minded and if you all truly care about America then you won't vote for this joker of a president. Plus he'll lose anyway because no incumbant president has ever won a second term with unemployment at or higher than 8%.

      June 9, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
      • jean2009

        Highest national average price for gasoline $4.11 June 2008.

        Gabon has oil, and like it or not, by the end of this century African nations as a whole will provide a great deal of economic potential.

        June 9, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
    • jean2009

      Obama-Biden – 2012

      June 9, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
  5. LouieD

    I see what you did there in your headline, CNN! "Bongo drums!" How clever! How droll! How New York Post of you!

    Sure, in a tiny way it helps justify the opinion of those who don't consider you a serious news source, but what the heck - it's funny, right?

    June 9, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • Glenda

      Whtat do you expect out of Liberal networks.

      June 9, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
      • excitizen

        maybe you should go back to faux entertainment channel where you obviously get ALL of your information

        June 9, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
      • sithlord

        Excitizen is a blind Obamabot. Wake up, look at the state of our economy, gas, food prices, inflation, more wars, Gitmo is still open. YOU voted for a liar!

        June 9, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
      • sithlord

        Maybe Excitizen should go back to Hardball with obama lover Mathews.

        June 9, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • jean2009

      Oh wait...New York Post is owned by Murdoch wouldn't that be the same as watching Faux News?

      June 9, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
  6. JD in Moraga

    Oh please – the US has been ruled for decades by the big corporations and there have been allegations of evidently we already have a lot in common.

    June 9, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  7. Smart

    Typical response from Liz Carter, yet another opportunity to question Obama's legitimacy. Take a look at the Wiki page of Ali Bongo's father, Omar Bongo who used to be president. His corruption and abuse of power was legendary. There is a picture of him and George Bush sitting in the Oval Office back in May 2004. But the Republicans will use this as yet another reason of why we must be scared of Obama's motives. Sad people!

    June 9, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • sithlord

      So far nothing Obama has done has worked. Where are the 500,000 jobs a month he claimed his stimuluss would produce? Why is unemployment above 8%? Gas was 1.89 when he took office and now 4.00 why hasn't he addressed it? What about inflation, spending, printing money, budget and defecit/? Why is Gitmo still open? Why has he started two more wars and doubled the troops in Aphghanistan and Iraq? HE LIED TO YOU! Just face the facts and stop being such an OBAMABOT

      June 9, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
      • smart

        What has all this got to do with my post? I was just pointing out the double standards. We did not hear the fear mongering when the elder Bongo visited Bush. Now go to the Wiki article like I said, look at the picture and comment on that.

        June 9, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
      • ITGuy

        A year ago people were saying the same thing, but using 10% instead of 8%. Well now it's below 10%. What you wanted has come to pass. Come back in a year, maybe it'll be below 8%. Constantly raising the bar just so the person you don't like can't reach it gives you about as much credibility as Christine O'Donnel "disproving" evolution. Obama has achieved a metric ton of the goals of the GOP, but because they happened on his watch the GOP have chosen to abandon their original arguments in favor of whatever sounds good that he hasn't done yet.

        June 10, 2011 at 9:18 am |
  8. w l jones

    Gobon is the birth place of Nuclear energy which if haven^t for gotten over two billion years old. Nobody knows what is hidden in that area our president just just might be able to tap into from from it leader. Bless

    June 9, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
  9. ja

    we do business with corrupt china, the saudias, the list is infinite

    June 9, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • Patcee

      The attackers on 9/11 were Saudis and so was Osama bin Laden. Yet Saudi Arabia is one of our closest allies in the Mideast. I guess its a case of keep your friends close but your enemies closer.

      June 10, 2011 at 1:50 am |
  10. Ya Ya

    I could be mistaken, but it seems that Liz Carter in Georgia is actually speaking in DEFENSE of President Obama. Basically, saying that 'they' have questioned EVERYTHING connected to him, so why should this be any different. Just more of the same, question, diminish, accuse, allude,

    June 9, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
  11. George Washington

    LIZ is just a typical TP lemming..... spout what ever FascistNews sprews out without thought or analysis....
    LouieD: Name one "serious news source", just one that doesn't have these type of stories or headlines.
    I guess that the father was OK since he visited with Bush in 04......

    June 9, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  12. Sheryl Dennis

    You need to just go somewhere and S T F U ! I am tired of your oh so slight noise of dribble against our President. Get a life and further more, get an education and do some research, you are LYING!!!!! no wonder you LOVE palin, bird of a feather flocked together they say !

    June 9, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
  13. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    What about the Afghan President and his brother, what about the former Prime Minister of Iraq and What about China.

    June 9, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  14. DanoMcRoo

    Are we so poor that we can't afford to fix the cracks in walls at the Oval Office?

    June 9, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
  15. MrJay

    a revolution is right around the corner. Just not the way you libs are thinking. cant wait

    June 9, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
  16. Jasper

    To thy enemy is to know thyself. How can you cast judgement on Obama over this. If it wasnt for him we would not have known about the ATF and their undergroud weapons laundrying to Mexican cartels. There are many layers of corruption and he is slowly digging through them and doing his best to fix it...after all best is all we can offer isnt it. So he is saying hi to a brotha, who cares. I work and pay my taxes vote whom I feel is needed and let them do the job at hand...dirty or self indulgent politicaly anal people need to quit blogging this and grow some balls and protest if your true to your viewpoint, but knowing you hide behind words makes me sleep comfortably knowing my cousin is overseas putting his life on the line for me, my entire family, and you. Bush's mistake to go round two in Iraq, but Bama is at least in the right I didnt even vote for him and yet I back my president like every AMERICAN should. From: Random Thoughts in Oregon

    June 9, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
  17. James

    Obama is from the Chicago corruption machine. I would expect nothing less from him. He follows the money no matter what.

    June 9, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
    • jean2009

      You know James, we could use a president who follows the money for us.

      June 9, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
  18. impeach

    More butt clown oil mongering... thank you president obama for keeping ur promise's like pulling out of the mid east with'n months of ur election.. atleast bush's lies were comical with his funny faces and slight accent...

    June 9, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
    • jean2009

      I didn't find Bush a bit funny, and frankly neither should anyone who lost their home, or job due to his mishandling of the economy.

      June 10, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
  19. Glenn

    As a supporter of the President this is definately troubling. Most of us, including the independents gave him the benefit of the doubt when he had Common at the White House. He is going to lose many independent voters because of the bad judgement the white house is using.. "You are judged by the company you keep." Bad move President Obama.

    June 9, 2011 at 8:05 pm |
    • jean2009

      Wake up Glenn... if we don't make stronger moves to trade with some of these resource rich African countries we are going down the tubes. African nations, although poorly managed, currently have great natural resources, and the Chinese are already beating us to the punch in many of these countries. Why should China get first dibs on selling them equipment which would create jobs here? Bongo can't be any worse than some of the other unsavory characters we have dealt with over the years.

      June 11, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  20. Aaron

    Are they any worse than the Saudi royal family?, which also gets the royal treatment because we need their oil.

    June 9, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
  21. maikl

    Thanks president Obama, WE enjoy your change-gas price change? yes. People not work–change? yes, more than 9%, food price change? yes. My family eat less. Inflation is up and change? yes. We forgot when my family took vacation,change? yes. You took for us.Thanks. My company told us that after 2 y. no more H.Insurance.Change? yes. Can you change your application for another 4 years and ask for resignation. Change? OOOOOYES. Good change.

    June 9, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
  22. noemi

    Please people tell me were are the reps going to come with these jobs for the nation? Are they going back to japan,mexico and all those other countrys and say sorry we need our factory jobs back and if our american ceos will have to live on 30 mill a year. It may become a hard ship for them but they well have to deal.and theY well take everyones health they (the rich) can have better vacations for them and the rest of there rich people.obama didn't do this to our country u fornicating moron. It was bush and his people that has taken your food ,ins,vacations and sound like your sex life also. Put the blame were it belongs bush bush.tell me any one were are the repulicans going to get all these jobs ? When there's no jobs to have and the ones (jobs) that are out there aren't going to pay u 30.oo per hour. Those jobs are gone.ur never gonna make that much again.u should have saved your money paid ur morgage and not try keeping up with the ur up to your popper with no way out and the only one u have to blame is prez OBAMA.get over it blame the bush adminIstration and u for not having a back up plan u moron.let me guess ur voting for that moronic jerk of romney?did u know he belongs to the biggest cults in the free world. He's a mormon they are NOT a religon they area cult just like the muslims.but u would vote for him because his skin isn't dark right. U moron

    June 9, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
  23. Patcee

    Enjoyed deciphering your comment, noemi.

    June 10, 2011 at 1:54 am |
  24. jerome

    "Coverage of the meeting is being limited to a pool of still cameras, even though Oval Office visits have been historically open to TV cameras and correspondents."

    Historically – meaning pre-Obama

    "This tight access ensures a quiet photo op devoid of uncomfortable questions."

    Can't let any reporters zing Obama with "uncomfortable questions."

    June 10, 2011 at 3:57 am |
  25. dumbbush

    Seriously,ppl r u pretending to be that stupid to think that 0bama got the economy in such bad shape??No,it was like that when he took office. Both Bushes, got us in this mess.If they wouldn't hv bn making deals with the Devil& trying to stealing oil from other countrys.We wouldn't be in a stupid war that has been goin on long before Obama. -Innocent ppl wouldn't be losing their life for no reason.Stop being closed minded.If Obama was a white man trying to clean up Bush disaster would we be doig so much public bashing? 0bama jus happen to be in office when the shit hit the fan..Why are we expecting him to work a miracle in 2yrs to clean up the Bush mess and they had 8 plus yrs to create this mess.BIG GEORGEG/lil george has left for someone else to clean up.

    June 10, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • jean2009

      Include Reagan followed Taft's stupid economic trickle down economy theory. Taft's theory didn't work for Hoover either.
      We can't handle dealing with that theory again.

      June 10, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
  26. rightisright

    I am reading all of these things, and I wonder where and what did you do when Bush was dragging this country to the brink of being broken beyond repair? Did you all forget that Clinton left the man a SURPLUS!!!! The country would have been debt free if that man had not start spending money on the promise of future earnings. Now all of that Obama's fault. You voted for Universal Health Care– well you got it!! Now that's not right. You voted for someone to get us out of wars– got that too! Now he is a coward because of that. You voted for someone to rebuild the International Bridges that Bush blew up (literally!!!) and he is doing that but that is also a problem. We lost jobs because of bad policies BEFORE Obama– not after. Jobs were sent overseas due to lax tax laws and companies saw a way to make the money, not pay Americans to do the job, bring the money back over to American, not have to pay the tax on it when it is brought back (double taxation is elimanted in this instances) thanks to Bush!! So you want to fix the economy?? Do you really?? Repeal some of Bush tax laws, which will force companies to either pay higher taxes on foreign income -- then they will rehire Americans. It is not Obama fault, he is trying to fix it with a Republican congress fighting him tooth and nail, not about what's right just to make him lose. Learn your history– Republicans has always been for big businesses– nothing changes about that, they don't care about the debt, or healthcare for all, or anything that benefit small business or people. The care about the big business, and the trips and the big profits paid to them (Senate Million Dollar Club anyone?) once they have arrived.

    June 10, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  27. Liz Carter in Georgia

    @dumbbush, Good post! That's been the point to most of my commentary all along and they call me a racist! LOL! Oooooh! A RACIST! Thanks. My thoughts exactly! Thank you for sharing!

    June 10, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
  28. Liz Carter in Georgia

    Yeah, and those many heads of state, dictators, rulers, kings, etc., 'corruption drenched' power moguls have been, always will be, and are still having to deal with us! That is the US Society of Corruption!

    June 12, 2011 at 10:45 pm |