VP says Gabonese president suffered a stroke

Sunday December 9 2018

A handout from the Moroccan Royal Palace of

A handout from the Moroccan Royal Palace of King Mohamed VI (L) with Gabon's President Ali Bongo at the military hospital in the capital Rabat on December 3, 2018. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Gabon's President Ali Bongo, out of the country since falling ill in October, suffered a stroke, his vice-president said, providing the first official details of his illness.

The 59-year-old leader left hospital in Morocco earlier this month and is recovering at a private residence in the capital Rabat after weeks of silence about his condition.

Vice-President Pierre Claver Maganga Moussavou said President Bongo had suffered a cerebrovascular accident or CVA, commonly known as a stroke.

Death or illness

"Nobody should rejoice over the death or illness of another, those who have never known a CVA, pray to God that they never know one," Mr Moussavou said in a speech in Franceville in the south of the country on Saturday.

"I would not wish it on anyone, not even my worst enemy."

A lack of official news after President Bongo fell ill at an economic forum in Saudi Arabia on October 24 sparked speculation the Gabonese leader was incapacitated or even dead.

The vice-president was part of a delegation of high-ranking officials who visited President Bongo on Tuesday in Morocco, where he flew at the end of November after a stay in hospital in Riyadh.

A presidential spokesman had initially talked briefly of severe fatigue when referring to President Bongo's illness.

Colonial master

Official statements did not give details of his condition, though some sources had referred to a possible stroke.

A photograph of President Bongo and two videos without sound have been published since his arrival in Morocco, further fuelling rumours about his state of health.

The Bongo family has governed the oil-rich equatorial African nation for five decades and long maintained close ties with former colonial master France.

Diplomatic ties cooled after Ali Bongo was elected in 2009 following his father's death and French authorities launched a corruption investigation into the family's assets.