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Gabon President Hospitalized in London as Health Deteriorates

Baudelaire Mieu and Leanne de Bassompierre

(Bloomberg) -- Gabonese President Ali Bongo is receiving medical treatment in London after his health deteriorated during a visit to the city, according to people familiar with the matter.

Bongo’s latest setback comes less than a year after he suffered a stroke in October while attending a conference in Saudi Arabia. He returned to the oil-producing central African nation in March after spending months recovering abroad. His few public appearances since then have fueled widespread speculation that the stroke inflicted lasting damage.

Bongo, 60, traveled to London after taking part in Gabon’s anniversary of its independence from France on Aug. 17 and has since been hospitalized, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they’re not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

Bongo hasn’t been hospitalized and is spending time at his London residence while on a short period of leave, his office said in a statement on Monday. He is undergoing routine medical checks and will soon return to Gabon, it said.

Instagram Post

Earlier, Bongo’s wife Sylvia posted a picture of the president dressed in a tracksuit on her Instagram account, titled “beautiful and sweet day.” It wasn’t immediately clear when the photo was taken.

Gabon’s recently appointed environment minister, Lee White, told the BBC in an interview broadcast Aug. 28 that Bongo is physically weakened by the stroke but fit to govern and “definitely in charge.”

Civil-society groups and activists have gone to court to demand that Bongo undergo medical examinations to determine whether he’s fit to rule, but scheduled court hearings have been postponed twice.

Bongo has ruled the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ second-smallest oil producer since winning elections in 2009 that were held months after his father, Omar Bongo, died in office.

(Updates with comment from Bongo’s office in fourth paragraph.)

To contact the reporters on this story: Baudelaire Mieu in Abidjan at bmieu@bloomberg.net;Leanne de Bassompierre in Abidjan at ldebassompie@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Andre Janse van Vuuren at ajansevanvuu@bloomberg.net, Paul Richardson

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