Balloons and fireworks will have to wait as the longtime President of Gabon has been hospitalized at the King Faisal hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, suffering from severe fatigue.
The party of President Ali Bongo had just “coasted to victory” in a second round of legislative elections this month when the President fell ill. A medical and a diplomatic source both told the Reuters news agency that the president had suffered a stroke, but government officials disputed the story.
“Bongo is feeling better and has been told to rest,” said government spokesman Ike Ngouoni, warning citizens to be vigilant and avoid “fake news.”
President Bongo’s key rival, Jean Ping, boycotted the election – the first since a presidential election two years ago spoiled by deadly violence and fraud allegations. This latest round of polls also brought complaints from opposition candidates who cited attempts to buy votes and missing ballots.
Turnout was low – only 28% in the province where nearly half the population lives. Bongo’s party won 74 seats in the National Assembly, the next vote getter won 3 seats and 4 opposition candidates won one seat each.
The 59-year-old president had been in Saudi Arabia to attend the Future Investment Initiative conference where he was scheduled to speak alongside other African leaders but was not seen during the discussion.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited him in the hospital that evening, the official Saudi Press Agency said on Thursday, Oct. 25.
Bongo’s family has ruled the oil-rich central African nation for nearly half a century. The West African country, wedged between Congo Brazzaville and Cameroon, is the sixth largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa and has the region’s fifth largest oil reserves.
In spite of its oil wealth, approximately one-third of the country’s 1.5 million people live below the poverty line. This has been blamed on unemployment (one in five out of work), an overdependence on oil for export, few jobs for locals, and one of the highest rates worldwide of students required to repeat grades.
In recent years, over 90% of Gabon’s oil output has been exported, mainly to the USA.
Source via Global Information Network