Gabon president resurfaces in video after long medical absence

Gabon
Morocco’s King Mohammed VI meets with Gabon President Ali Bongo in Rabat, Morocco. [REUTERS]

Gabon President Ali Bongo on Monday made his first appearance since falling ill nearly six weeks ago, in a video shared by the presidency from his medical leave in Morocco.

Bongo suffered a stroke while at a conference in Saudi Arabia on October 24, sources told Reuters.

The presidency initially said he was struggling with severe fatigue and later said he had some “bleeding” that required medical attention.

Bongo’s wife last week said he was travelling to Morocco to continue his recovery.

No one, however, has shared specific details on Bongo’s condition. With his exact condition and whereabouts unknown, unsubstantiated rumours have swirled that he was incapacitated or dead.

Gabon’s top court ruled last month that the vice president would chair the cabinet in Bongo’s absence.

In the short video clip shared with journalists, Bongo appears sitting down in a blue and white robe alongside his old friend, Moroccan King Mohammed VI. The two men are seen chatting briefly, though the video has no sound.

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At one point, Bongo, who is seated at a right angle to the camera, the right side of his face obscured, sips on what appears to be a glass of milk.

The Bongo family has ruled the oil-producing West African country for nearly half a century. Bongo has been president since succeeding his father, Omar, who died in 2009. His re-election in 2016 was marred by violent protests amid claims of fraud.

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