Drama in Gabon As President Appears in Video after Long Medical Absence, Whereabouts Unknown
President Ali Bongo of Gabon
Yet another drama is unfolding as President Ali Bongo of Gabon 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.
With his exact condition and whereabouts unknown, unsubstantiated rumors have swirled that he was incapacitated or dead.
Bongo suffered a stroke while at a conference in Saudi Arabia on Oct. 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 traveling to Morocco to continue his recovery.
No one, however, has shared specific details on Bongo’s condition. 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.
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 have 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.