Gabon pres­i­dent in Morocco to con­va­lesce

The Gulf Today - - MIDDLE EAST -

RABAT: Gabon’s Pres­i­dent Ali Bongo ar­rived in Morocco on Thurs­day to con­va­lesce af­ter a month’s treat­ment at a Saudi hos­pi­tal for an ill­ness that has not been ofi­cially re­vealed.

The 59-year-old leader of the oil-rich West African state had been in hos­pi­tal in Saudi Ara­bia since Oc­to­ber 24 when he fell ill at an eco­nomic fo­rum.

Af­ter his ar­rival in Rabat, Bongo was taken to a hos­pi­tal in the Moroccan cap­i­tal to pur­sue his con­va­les­cence and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, a Moroccan diplo­matic source said.

His trans­fer was “in ac­cor­dance with the wishes of his ex­cel­lency Pres­i­dent Bongo, in agree­ment with the con­sti­tu­tional in­sti­tu­tions of the Gabonese Repub­lic, and in ac­cor­dance with the opin­ion of the doc­tors,” the Moroccan for­eign min­istry said in a state­ment.

Af­ter an ex­tended pe­riod of si­lence, the Gabonese pres­i­dency even­tu­ally ad­mit­ted ear­lier this 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, ac­cord­ing to a source in the pres­i­dency.

No pic­tures were re­leased to show Bongo’s ar­rival in Morocco nor since his hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tion in Riyadh, spark­ing con­cerns in Gabon over his health.

A lack of ofi­cial 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 ive 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.

Over the past month, the Gabonese pres­i­dency has re­leased only two state­ments on Bongo’s health.

In the irst, sev­eral days af­ter his hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tion, pres­i­dency spokesman Ike Ngouoni said that Bongo was “suf­fer­ing from se­vere fa­tigue”.

Then on Novem­ber 11, Ngouoni ad­mit­ted the pres­i­dent was “se­ri­ously ill” and had un­der­gone surgery.

Fol­low­ing dis­com­fort and “per­sis­tent ver­tigo... the first tests re­vealed bleed­ing which jus­ti­fied med­i­cal sur­gi­cal care in a highly spe­cialised sec­tor,” the spokesman said quot­ing a med­i­cal bul­letin from doc­tors treat­ing Bongo.

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