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Gabon Pays the First Instalment of Conservation Fund Money 

It forms a key part of a pioneering “debt-for-nature” deal sealed just before its coup. The $500 million debt swap was the first of its kind on continental Africa and saw the government of overthrown president Ali Bongo commit to protect Gabon’s coastal waters that host the world’s largest population of leatherback turtles. His removal though raised concerns the newly inked deal could fall apart and even trigger a sovereign debt default that would cause further problems in the central African country. Junta officials have since made public comments that the country’s obligations will be upheld. That has helped stem some of the immediate angst although the complexity of the debt swap has meant the worries haven’t disappeared completely. As a result, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), a U.S.-based organisation which helped design the debt swap and is designated to keep tabs on its progress, requested discussions with officials. In person talks have now been held and the regime has paid its first $1.1 million instalment into a new conservation fund that underpins the deal.

REUTERS