Gabon’s Ali Bongo makes post-stroke appearance

Authorities released photos of Bongo meeting the heads of the Constitutional Court and National Assembly and his chief of staff.
Gabon’s President Ali Bongo Ondimba speaks at the 2018 Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference in London on October 11, 2018. – The 2018 Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference is the fourth such international conference bringing together heads of state, ministers and officials from nearly 80 countries, alongside NGOs, academics and businesses, to build on previous efforts to tackle this lucrative criminal trade. The conference is being hosted by the UK Government from 11th – 12th October 2018. (Photo by Chris Jackson / POOL / AFP)

President Ali Bongo, whose stroke last October plunged Gabon into uncertainty, held a string of meetings on Monday ahead of the first gathering of the cabinet, according to the government.

The authorities released photos of Bongo meeting the heads of the Constitutional Court and National Assembly and his chief of staff.

Film footage was also disseminated on social media, showing Bongo waving to passers-by through the lowered window of his car as it negotiated heavy traffic in the capital Libreville.

National Assembly president Faustin Boukoubi told Gabon 24 television that he was “pleasantly surprised” by the meeting with Bongo.

It had “warmed his heart” to meet Bongo, Boukoubi said, adding that the president had “retained his powers of memory” and “lucidity” and was “very alert”.

A statement from the president’s office said Bongo had also received several ministers and added that “the new government’s first cabinet meeting” under Prime Minister Julien Nkoghe Bekale would be held on Tuesday.

Bongo returned to Gabon overnight from Morocco, where he has been receiving treatment after suffering a cerebral haemorrhage on October 24 while on a visit to Saudi Arabia, officials said.

He “may go back” to Morocco later, an aide to Bongo told AFP.

On January 15, Bongo made a swift return from Morocco to presidence over the swearing-in of new ministers.

Official footage of that ceremony showed him opening and closing the session, and a few brief shots showed him seated in a wheelchair and squinting slightly.

During his months abroad, speculation about Bongo’s health has proliferated despite the government’s insistence that he was in good shape.

His prolonged absence also stoked concern about a vacuum of power, apparently sparking a brief attempted coup by renegade soldiers on January 7.

Bongo took office after an election in 2009 that followed the death of his father, former president Omar Bongo, who took office in 1967.

Bongo senior had the reputation of being one of the wealthiest men in the world, allegedly amassing a fortune derived from Gabon’s oil.


© Agence France-Presse


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