Gabon leader Ali Bongo seriously ill: presidency

Wednesday March 18 2020
BONPIC

Gabon's President Ali Bongo casts his ballot at a polling station in Libreville during the first round of the country's legislative and municipal elections on October 6, 2018. PHOTO | JOEL TATOU | AFP

By AFP

LIBREVILLE

Gabon's President Ali Bongo, hospitalised in Saudi Arabia on October 24, is seriously ill but on the mend, the presidency said Sunday.

The 59-year-old leader's condition "has greatly improved" and he is in the process "of recovering most of his functions", Ike Ngouoni, the spokesman for the presidency, said.

Lack of official news -- along with memories of the secrecy-shrouded death of Bongo's father Omar Bongo in office in 2009 after decades at the helm -- has set the rumour mill churning about his health.

A foreign source close to Bongo and his French-born wife Sylvia told AFP on Wednesday that Bongo had had a stroke.

Bongo served as foreign and defence minister during his father's rule, and after his death was elected head of state in August 2009.

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He was narrowly re-elected in 2016 following a presidential poll marred by deadly violence and allegations of fraud.