Bongo’s Long Illness and Absence stir Political and Legal Battles in Gabon

By Chris Zumani Zimba

4bk92d31095afcda11_800C450.jpgGabonese President, Ali Bongo has been seriously ill and not seen in public since being admitted to hospital during a conference on 24th Octeber, 2018 in Saudi Arabia. The Gabonese Head of State and Government is said to have left Saudi Arabia, where he was hospitalised for now a month after suffering a stroke for Morocco according to his wife.


In a post on her Facebook page early this week, Bongo’s wife, Sylvia Bongo wrote that her husband’s health had improved significantly and that he would travel to Rabat on Wednesday, 27th November 2018 to continue resting and meet some key government advisors there. “To pursue his recuperation after consultations with his close family, the president has decided to accept the proposal of his brother, His Majesty the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI,” the Gabonese First Lady wrote on her social media page.

On 18 Nov 2018, the African Union (AU) called for political calm in Gabon. In a statement, the chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, said that she was deeply concerned about the developments in Gabon in the absence of the country’s president, Ali Bongo where the opposition rejected the Vice President or Prime Minister to act as president in Bongo’s absence as the Republican Constitution did not provide for that.

However, Vice president, Pierre-Claver Mag-anga Moussa-vou has now officially taken control to act as president after a meeting of the country’s ministerial council and legal approval by Gabon’s high court. This was done after the ruling party speedily amended the Constitution to allow Moussa-vou to become interim leader.

As the political drama and battles continue, the opposition political parties are still rejecting the latest constitutional changes and still demanding and warning of a political and constitutional crisis in Gabon.


The Bongo family has ruled the oil-producing country for nearly half a century. Ali Bongo Ondimba is a Gabonese politician who has been President of Gabon since October 2009. Born on 9th February, 1959 from Omar Bongo, who was President of Gabon from 1967 until his death in 2009, he was during his father’s presidency Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1989 to 1991 and represented Bongoville as a Deputy in the National Assembly from 1991 to 1999; subsequently he was Minister of Defense from 1999 to 2009. Following his father’s death after 41 years in power, he was first elected in the August 2009 presidential election.[2] He was re-elected in August 2016, in elections marred by numerous irregularities, arrests, human rights violations and post-election violence.[3][4] Bongo is also President of the ruling party in his country.

Chris Zumani Zimba is a prolific Political Scientist, Analyst, Author, Blogger, PhD Scholar, Researcher and Consultant. Besides being the CEO and Managing Consultant at Chrizzima Democracy University (CDU) in Zambia, he analyses African politics weekly on Voice of the Cape Town, South Africa every Wednesday at 16:45hours CAT. So far, he has authored more than 10 political and academic books as well as published over 100 well researched articles.  


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