Court in Gabon rejects call for health check of president

Some opponents of the president called for a judicial enquiry into his state of health.
(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 23, 2019 Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba waves from his car upon his arrival in Libreville. – Six months after his stroke, and one month after a “final” return to the country late March, President Ali Bongo Ondimba remains invisible in Libreville. (Photo by Steve JORDAN / AFP)

A Gabonese court has thrown out a bid by opposition activists to force President Ali Bongo Ondimba to have medical checks to see if he is still fit to rule.

The court in Libreville rejected the request as “inadmissible”, according to the ruling seen by AFP Saturday.

Only the government or the two chambers of parliament had the power to go to the Constitutional Court to get a ruling removing the president from power, it said.

But the activists behind the legal bid denounced the ruling.

“This judgment reinforces our doubt about the capacity of Ali Bongo to still carry out his presidential duties,” activist Marc Ona, who leads up one of the groups behind the bid, said.

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Bongo spent five months abroad in Morocco, recovering from a stroke he suffered on October 24 while visiting Saudi Arabia.

During that period, he returned to Gabon twice, his long absence stoking concern about a power vacuum. A brief attempted coup by renegade soldiers in January was quickly ended.

But on his return to Gabon at the end of March, some opponents of the president called for a judicial enquiry into his state of health.

Thursday’s court decision appears to have blocked that bid.

Ali Bongo has ruled the oil-rich central African country since 2009, following the death of his father Omar Bongo, who ruled from 1967.

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