Gabon's ousted president Ali Bongo 'free to go abroad'

Bongo has been under house arrest since the coup

GABON-SECURITY/ File: Gabon's President Ali Bongo Ondimba | Reuters

Gabon's ousted president Ali Bongo Ondimba has been freed, a junta spokesperson said on Wednesday. “Given his state of health, the former President of the Republic Ali Bongo Ondimba is free to move about. He may, if he wishes, travel abroad to receive medical check-ups,” junta spokesperson Col. Ulrich Manfoumbi said on state television, CNN reported.

Bongo has reportedly been under house arrest since the coup in late August. He was rarely seen after the coup. State television released images that showed Bongo greeting Abdou Abarry, head of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa. 

64-year-old Bongo had suffered a massive stroke in 2018 and spent months in Morocco receiving treatment. Post this an unsuccessful coup was attempted after questions regarding his health and capacity to continue as president surfaced. 

He had been in power for 14 years since succeeding his father Omar Bongo in 2009. Omar Bongo had been in power for 41 years. He sought another term in last month's elections, in which he was announced winner. But, the junta called it an “outrageously biased electoral process.” 

The coup had been widely condemned by Africa and the West, including France, Gabon's former colonial ruler. Gen Brice Oligui Nguema, who was sworn in as transitional president vowed to return the country to civilian rule after free and fair elections. Oligui is a cousin of Bongo and headed the country’s republican guard, an elite military unit.

Other political prisoners including pro-democracy activist and leader of the most powerful trade union confederation, Jean Rémi Yama were released by the junta earlier this week.

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