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Gabonese president Ali Bongo makes a rare appearance for votes a year after suffering stroke

October 08, 2019 at 10:30 am | News

Michael Eli Dokosi

Michael Eli Dokosi | Staff Writer

October 08, 2019 at 10:30 am | News

In atrocious acts which dim the shine of the African continent, Gabonese President Ali Bongo, despite suffering a stroke some months ago has made a rare public appearance.

Bongo was at the Nzeng Ayong Stadium in the capital Libreville, campaigning and asking the crowd to retain him as president come 2023.

Bongo took over from his predecessor and father Omar Bongo, who ruled for 42 years (1967 – 2009). It appears the younger Bongo, who has clocked 10 years already, wants to hold on to power in the oil rich State, despite ill-health.

The 60-year-old has speech and walking impairment and at the Saturday event, he was swarmed by security agents who appeared to be on edge. The political opposition in Gabon has declared the president unfit to execute his state duties much more stand for re-election. The matter is before the courts awaiting a hearing, reports Bloomberg.com.

“Ya Ali”, “Ali, the great,” the patrons at the stadium thundered whereupon he responded, “I’m here, I’m here for you, and I will always be here,” adding, “You can’t even imagine the joy I feel being here among you.”

While the president is incapacitated somewhat, his head of cabinet has been doing a lot of the leg work touring Gabon’s nine provinces on his behalf.

Bongo suffered the stroke on October 24, 2018 while attending a conference in Saudi Arabia. He spent months in Morocco where he received further medical care before returning to Gabon.

Back in 2013, Algeria suffered similar fate, where then president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, despite suffering a stroke went ahead to announce his bid to run for a fifth-term. However, he was compelled to resign by the citizens and the military.

Algeria’s former president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika via @Umuvugakuri

Weeks of massive street protests by the citizens secured the victory and disposal of the 82-year-old Bouteflika who was in power for 20 years.

How Mr. Bouteflika, stayed on as president for six years despite suffering a stroke and avoiding public outings must have been the source of inspiration for Bongo and his assigns, however, the people-power as shown by the Algerian people can triumph in the end. The over two million Gabonese nationals who desire change must demand for provisions in the constitution to address such pitfalls regarding action to take if a leader becomes ill for a relatively long time or dies. Gabonese leaders are elected through a direct popular vote and serve a seven-year term.

Protest against Abdelaziz Bouteflika via @Umuvugakuri/Twitter

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