Gabonese President, Ali Bongo In First Live Public Appearance After Suffering Stroke
After nearly 10 months of suffering a stroke, Gabonese President, Ali Bango has made his first live public appearance in which he attended a couple of ceremonies in the capital Libreville.
According to reports, Bongo who has been scrutinized for signs of ill health, attended commemorations on the eve of the country’s anniversary of independence.
It was the first time he had been seen in public outside the presidential palace since falling ill last October, except for appearances that were filmed and edited by Gabonese government or state media.
Bongo who is 60 exchanged pleasantries with security officers before laying a wreath at the tomb of the country’s first president, Leon Mba.
The ceremony which lasted half an hour and was shorter than in previous years saw the central African head of state climbing several steps, been aided.
After he suffered a stroke in October 24 in Saudi Arabia, speculations were rife about the president’s ability to rule the small oil-rich country.
He was flown to Morocco for treatment, returning in January. During his extended absence, the army quashed a brief attempted coup.
In May, he dismissed his vice president and minister of forests after a scandal erupted over the smuggling of precious timber.
Ten members of Gabon’s political opposition, civil society and trade union movement have filed a suit requesting Bongo be assessed to see whether he is medically fit to continue in office.
A lower court dismissed the case in May, saying that only the two houses of parliament, or the Constitutional Court acting at the behest of the government, were empowered to determine whether the president was unfit.
But the Court of Appeal on Monday said it would hear an appeal by the plaintiffs and set a date for it — August 26.
Bongo is scheduled to make a televised speech on Friday evening and then on Saturday attend an annual military parade to mark the country’s independence from France in 1960.
Opposition figures have urged the public to turn out in large numbers on Saturday to gain a closer look at his health.
Recall that after the death of his father, Omar Bongo in June 2009, Bongo succeeded the former who became head of state in 1967 and left a legacy of corruption allegations.