The absence of Gabonese president, Ali Bongo Ondimba, from his country has fuelled suspicions and fake news including a death report filed by a Cameroonian media which prompted the presidency to find its voice about his whereabouts.
The privately-run Vision 4 television was suspended from broadcasting in the country after announcing the death of the president in Saudi Arabia which was immediately dismissed.
The government clearly indicated in a statement that the president was indeed in Saudi Arabia but was suffering from fatigue due to his heavy workload. It added that he was recuperating at the King Faisal hospital and on medical leave.
Sources told Reuters that Bongo suffered from a stroke and was admitted to hospital on October 24 in Saudi Arabia.
However, the presidency reiterated in a statement on Monday, read out on state TV by spokesman Ike Ngouoni, that the president’s health has “greatly improved”.
“This positive development has accelerated significantly in recent days. Today the President of the Republic is in the process of recovering all of his physical abilities.”
The statement didn’t say if he indeed suffered from a stroke or not but indicated that he had had “bleeding which required medical care,” reports Reuters. It added that he continues to carry out his duties as required by the constitution.
Ali Bongo joins a long list of African leaders who suffered from serious ill health while in office and who have sought treatment outside their countries. Some of them include Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari, Cameroon’s Paul Biya among many others.
President Bongo took over power in 2009 following the death of his father, Omar Bongo, who had ruled Gabon since 1967.