Gabon leader accepts Benin apology
Libreville - Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba on Thursday accepted an apology from Benin after a diplomatic passport incident there involving his chief of staff, while announcing an enquiry.
"The matter is closed. It's not a question of our countries' relations being affected by this kind of incident," Bongo told a press conference after receiving a Benin delegation led by Defence Minister Kogui N'Douro.
On Wednesday Benin's government fired an airport official and apologised after the incident which involved Bongo's visiting chief of staff Maixent Accrombessi, a Benin citizen.
The short-lived spat resulted from a check that airport officials wanted to carry out on his plane and its passengers.
Accrombessi had led a delegation to Benin. No details were provided on the purpose of the delegation's visit or its members.
"[Benin] President Thomas Boni Yayi has sent his personal apology and that of the Benin government for the incident which took place last weekend at Cotonou airport," Bongo said.
"We aren't going to dramatise the zeal with which some airport agents boarded an official plane of the Gabonese air force and seized the passports of all the occupants including the cabinet director," he explained.
"Enquiries are underway to ascertain the motive behind an operation like that," Bongo added.
The most regrettable aspect of this affair, he said, was the preparation of a press article to appear the following day talking of trafficked goods and "the presence of prostitutes on board the plane... who tested positive for narcotics", he asserted.