Gabon president returns home after second visit to Morocco for health reasons

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FILE PHOTO: Gabon's President Ali Bongo Ondimba addresses a meeting on climate change at the 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and the Government of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia January 29, 2018. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/File Photo

Gabon President Ali Bongo returned to his country late on Sunday for the second time since suffering a stroke in October, a source at the presidency told Reuters on Monday.

President of Gabon Ali Bongo

Contradictory information about Bongo’s health and an extended convalescence in Morocco have fuelled instability in Gabon which his family has ruled for over 50 years.

“The president returned yesterday. This morning he has meetings with the heads of constitutional institutions and then with certain members of the government,” the source said, adding that no public appearances were scheduled.

Asked if the return was permanent, the source said: “nothing has been said or determined by his medical staff on this subject”.

Frustration at the lack of information boiled over in January, when a small group of soldiers briefly took over state radio and called for the president to step aside.

In an apparent effort to shore up his political base after the failed coup attempt, Bongo paid a short visit to Gabon the following week to swear in a new government. From televised footage of the ceremony it was not clear if he could walk or move his right arm.

Bongo took over the presidency when his father Omar Bongo died in 2009. He won re-election in 2016 by fewer than 6,000 votes amid widespread accusations of fraud, sparking deadly clashes between protesters and police during which the country’s parliament was torched.