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Gabon amends constitution for ill president

Gabon’s constitutional court has intervened to avert a political crisis brought about by the ill health of President Ali Bongo.

Gabon's President Ali Bongo
Gabon’s President Ali Bongo

There have been no government meetings since he was taken to hospital in Saudi Arabia last month.

The court has amended the constitution to allow the vice-president or prime minister to run cabinet meetings if the president is temporarily unavailable – a move the opposition says is illegal.

Amid speculation that the president had suffered a stroke and some even questioning whether he was still alive, Mr Bongo’s office finally admitted on Sunday that he was recovering from surgery.

In 2009 Ali Bongo succeeded his father Omar Bongo who had been president for more than 40 years. 

Speculation about Bongo’s future has swollen since the 59-year-old president was taken to hospital in the Saudi capital Riyadh on October 24.

After initially saying that Bongo had been admitted for “severe fatigue,” his office on Sunday admitted that he had undergone surgery.

It said his condition had “greatly improved” and was “recovering most of his functions” but gave no details about his illness or when he would return. BBC News/AFP