Gabon president Ali Bongo seriously ill

Ali Bongo Ondimba

Gabon’s President Ali Bongo, hospitalised in Saudi Arabia on October 24, is seriously ill but on the mend, the presidency said Sunday.

The 59-year-old leader’s condition “has greatly improved” and he is in the process “of recovering most of his functions,” Ike Ngouoni, the spokesman for the presidency, said.

Lack of official news — along with memories of the secrecy-shrouded death of Bongo’s father Omar Bongo in office in 2009 after decades at the helm — has set the rumour mill churning about his health.

A foreign source close to Bongo and his French-born wife Sylvia told AFP on Wednesday that Bongo had had a stroke.

Bongo served as foreign and defence minister during his father’s rule, and after his death was elected head of state in August 2009.

He was narrowly re-elected in 2016 following a presidential poll marred by deadly violence and allegations of fraud.