Top Gabon officials join ailing President Bongo in Morocco

This handout picture provided by the Moroccan Royal Palace on December 3, 2018 shows Morocco's King Mohamed VI (L) visiting Gabon's President Ali Bongo at the military hospital in the capital Rabat. AFP

Gabon’s top government officials gathered Tuesday in Rabat where President Ali Bongo is recovering after treatment for an illness that has not been officially revealed, his office said.

The 59-year-old leader, who fell ill on October 24 at an economic forum, arrived in Morocco last week following a month’s treatment at a hospital in Saudi Arabia.


Prime Minister Emmanuel Issoze Ngondet, Vice President Pierre-Claver Maganga Moussavou and the head of the constitutional court, Marie-Madeleine Mborantsuo, were among the senior officials to join Bongo in Rabat, the president’s office told AFP Tuesday.

A day earlier, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, a long-time friend of Bongo’s, visited the president at the military hospital.

The palace later released a handout picture and a short video which it said showed the pair’s encounter.

Both leaders are seen seated together — with Bongo smiling and dressed in a turban and djellaba robe — next to the flags of their countries.

The move came after persistent rumours over the health of the Gabonese president for more than a month.


After an extended period of silence, the Gabonese presidency eventually admitted last month that Bongo was “seriously ill” and had undergone surgery, but said he was on the mend.

His recovery would take weeks, or even days, a source in the presidency said last week.

A lack of official news — along with memories of the secrecy-shrouded death of Bongo’s father Omar Bongo in 2009 after decades at the helm — had sparked numerous rumours, including speculation he was incapacitated or even dead.

The Bongo family has governed Gabon for five decades. Ali Bongo was elected head of state after his father’s death.

He was narrowly re-elected in 2016 after beating opposition challenger Jean Ping by a few thousand votes following a presidential poll marred by deadly violence and allegations of fraud.

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