NOFI

Ali Bongo of Gabon does not have a body double, his spokesman said Thursday, brushing aside rumours that a lookalike has been standing in for the 60-year-old president since he suffered a stroke in October.

“There’s no body double,” Ike Ngouoni told a news conference, the first since Bongo fell ill. “The president is indeed there. He’s the one on the job.”

He said there was “no reason to be concerned” about Bongo’s health, while noting that “adjustments have been made for the head of state, who has gone through an unusual time”.

Bongo, who is convalescing in Morocco, has returned to Gabon only twice since falling ill, staying less than 48 hours each time.

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There has been no word on when he will return home definitively.

In early January Bongo survived a brief coup attempt by army rebels while in Morocco.

Gabon is notoriously rumour-prone, and the president’s prolonged absence has prompted speculation about his health, as well as the possible existence of a stand-in.

Late last month Bongo led a Cabinet meeting during which a raft of appointments were announced and several close aides were dismissed — but no media were on hand for the event.

He also went for a ride through the capital Libreville, waving at people through the car window.

“The president was there in flesh and blood. He went around the city… a lot of people can attest to that,” Ngouoni said in answer to a question.

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