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Gabon’s Ali Bongo to move from Riyadh to Rabat ‘to convalesce’

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(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 5, 2017 Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba attends the closing ceremony of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations football tournament at the Stade de l’Amitie Sino-Gabonaise in Libreville. – Gabon’s Constitutional Court has intervened in a crisis surrounding hospitalised president Ali Bongo, AFP reported on November 25, 2018 with the president of the Constitutional Court Marie-Madeleine Mborantsuo, announcing that the court had decided to modify the constitution in order to address the scenario of “temporary incapacity” by the head of state, taken to hospital in the Saudi capital Riyadh on October 24. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

Gabon’s Ali Bongo, who has spent a month in treatment at a Saudi hospital, will be transferred next week to Rabat to convalesce, a presidential source told AFP on Friday.

Bongo, 59, was rushed to hospital in Riyadh on October 24 after falling ill at an economic forum.

After an extended period of silence, the Gabonese presidency eventually admitted he was “seriously ill” and had undergone surgery, while insisting he was on the mend.

The source said Bongo would be transferred to a hospital in the Moroccan capital “next week” where he would undergo “a period of convalescence and rehabilitation”.

“The doctors think he is up to travelling, even for such a long trip.. he is breathing normally and communicating in a coherent manner,” the source said.

“His life is no longer in danger, and he is no longer on a ventilator,” the source said.

“He is making good progress.”

Over the past month, the Gabonese presidency has only released two statements on Bongo’s health, first saying on October 29 he had been taken to hospital “suffering from severe fatigue”.

Then on November 11, Bongo’s office admitted he was “seriously ill” and had undergone surgery.

Lack of official news — along with memories of the secrecy-shrouded death of Bongo’s father Omar Bongo in 2009 after decades at the helm — had sparked numerous rumours, including speculation he was incapacitated or even dead.

Earlier this month, a foreign source close to Bongo and his French-born wife Sylvia told AFP the Gabonese president had had a stroke.

In mid-November, Gabon’s Constitutional Court said it had modified the constitution to address his “temporary incapacity” to allow certain functions to be carried out by the vice president or the prime minister.

The move drew widespread condemnation from the opposition and civil society groups.

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