Gabon’s President Bongo Opens Summit After Suffering Stroke

File photo of Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba. PHOTO:AFP

 

Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba opened a central African summit on Wednesday, marking a return to the international scene nearly 14 months after suffering a stroke.

Bongo, 60, gave a roughly four-minute speech to launch a gathering of the 11-nation Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).

The audience comprised around a hundred politicians, diplomats and journalists.

“I would like… to wish you the most cordial welcome to Libreville on the occasion of this extraordinary summit, which is devoted to the institutional reform of our community,” Bongo said from the podium.

Reform “should enable our community to adapt to the challenges of the day and strengthen its role as a pillar of the African Union,” he said.

Bongo’s health has become a closely-watched issue in Gabon, with critics insisting that his stroke has left him medically unfit to run the country.

He spoke without notable difficulty on Wednesday but paused for a few seconds between each sentence, an AFP reporter said.

Bongo is the current chair of ECCAS, a 36-year-old organisation which aims to forge a common market among 11 states.

The extraordinary summit, announced with only a few weeks’ notices, aims at beefing up ECCAS’ secretariat to create a more powerful commission, similar to that of the AU or European Union.

The group lags far behind similar bodies such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in terms of regional integration.

Four ECCAS heads of state were present — presidents Idriss Deby Itno of Chad; Faustin-Archange Touadera of the Central African Republic; Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo; and Evaristo Carvalho of Sao Tome and Principe.

Bongo, who has ruled the oil-rich equatorial country for 10 years, had a stroke in October 2018 while in Saudi Arabia, where he was hospitalised in Riyadh.

He was later flown to Morocco to convalesce and went back to Gabon last March, making few public appearances.

While he was convalescing, Bongo’s supporters put down a brief coup bid in January that challenged an elected family presidency that has ruled for more than 50 years.

Ali Bongo took over from his father Omar Bongo Ondimba, head of state from 1967 until he died in 2009.

Shockwaves have rippled across Gabon’s political scene in recent weeks as Bongo has stepped up his public appearances, clearly appearing to be in better health.

Former presidential cabinet director Brice Laccruche Alihanga, has been dismissed and charged with embezzlement together with three former ministers.

Thirteen senior government figures and state officials deemed to be close to Laccruche have also been placed in custody.

Gabon Insists President ‘Firmly In Control’ After Stroke

Gabon’s President, Ali Bongo/AFP

 

Gabon’s presidency said Monday that a recent speech showed leader Ali Bongo was “firmly in control” of the country after he suffered a stroke 10 months ago that fuelled speculation about his ability to rule.

The opposition has claimed that President Bongo is unfit to lead after the stroke in October, and his every move is now scrutinised for signs of his state of health.

On Friday, the 60-year-old made his first public appearance outside the presidential palace since returning home in March after falling ill.

“The president is at the wheel, he is in command,” presidency spokesman Ike Ngouoni said at a press conference in the capital Libreville.

“The president works not only to prove he is in control, everyone can notice, everyone can see that today he is on the job every day.”

“Everyone could see the president has regained his oratorical fluency,” Ngouoni said of Bongo’s televised speech on Friday night.

However, Bongo has yet to face the media since his stroke.

“When the president deems it is useful and an appropriate time, he will find the best way to address the press,” said Ngouoni.

Bongo used a long cane to walk as he attended a military parade on Saturday to mark Gabon’s 1960 independence from France.

Speculation about his capacity to rule the small, oil-rich central African country surged after he suffered the stroke while in Saudi Arabia.

He was flown to Morocco for treatment, returning briefly in January and then in March. During his extended absence, the army quashed a briefly attempted coup.

Bongo succeeded his father Omar Bongo, who became head of state in 1967 and died on June 2009, leaving a legacy of corruption allegations.

AFP

US Actor Luke Perry Reportedly Suffers Stroke

Actor Luke Perry arrives for the press line of “Riverdale” at Comic-Con in San Diego. CHRIS DELMAS / AFP

 

Actor Luke Perry has been hospitalized after reportedly suffering a massive stroke, US media said Thursday.

The “Beverly Hills, 90210” star was rushed to the hospital on Wednesday and remains under observation, his representative told various media outlets, declining to elaborate on the actor’s condition.

Perry, 52, had been in Los Angeles working on the television series “Riverdale,” a comic book adaptation in which he plays Fred Andrews.

On Wednesday, Fox announced that it was rebooting “Beverly Hills 90210,” but there was no confirmation Perry would be part of the new series.

READ ALSO: R. Kelly Released On Bail, Denies Sexually Abusing Children

The actor famously played Dylan McKay when the series ran in the 1990s.

Six of the original stars from the series, including Jason Priestley, Jennie Garth and Tori Spelling, have all signed on to the new show.

AFP

Gabon President To Speak Publicly For First Time Since Stroke

This handout picture provided by the Moroccan Royal Palace on December 3, 2018 shows Morocco’s King Mohamed VI (L) visiting Gabon’s President Ali Bongo at the military hospital in the capital Rabat. Handout / Moroccan Royal Palace / AFP

 

Gabon’s President Ali Bongo will deliver a speech on New Year’s Day, a source close to his entourage said Wednesday, in what will be the leader’s first public address since he had a stroke in October.

The 59-year-old leader has not been back to Gabon since he fell ill in Saudi Arabia on October 24 and will address his nation from Morocco’s capital Rabat, where he is recovering, the source told AFP.

The president has “charged the Prime Minister (Emmanuel Issoze Ngondet) to meet the expectations of the citizens” until his return to Gabon at an unspecified date, the source added.

A lack of official news on the leader’s health after he first fell ill sparked fevered speculation that he was incapacitated or even dead.

It was only revealed earlier this month that he had suffered a stroke.

A single photograph of Bongo and two videos without sound are all that has been published in the two months since his stroke, further fuelling rumours about his health.

Three opposition party leaders have called for an independent medical team to see Bongo in Rabat to assess whether he can perform his presidential duties.

The Bongo family has governed the oil-rich equatorial African nation for five decades.

Ali Bongo was elected head of state after his father’s death in 2009.

He was narrowly re-elected in 2016 following a presidential poll marred by deadly violence and allegations of fraud.

AFP

Gabon’s Leader Bongo Suffering From Stroke, Says Presidency

Morocco’s King Mohamed VI (L) visiting Gabon’s President Ali Bongo at the military hospital in the capital Rabat. Handout / Moroccan Royal Palace / AFP

 

Gabon’s President Ali Bongo, out of the country since falling ill in October, suffered a stroke, his vice president said, providing the first official details of his illness.

The 59-year-old leader left the hospital in Morocco earlier this month and is recovering at a private residence in the capital Rabat after weeks of silence about his condition.

Vice President Pierre Claver Maganga Moussavou said Bongo had suffered a cerebrovascular accident or CVA, commonly known as a stroke.

“Nobody should rejoice over the death or illness of another, those who have never known a CVA, pray to God that they never know one,” Moussavou said in a speech in Franceville in the south of the country on Saturday.

“I would not wish it on anyone, not even my worst enemy.”

A lack of official news after Bongo fell ill at an economic forum in Saudi Arabia on October 24 sparked speculation the Gabonese leader was incapacitated or even dead.

The vice president was part of a delegation of high-ranking officials who visited Bongo on Tuesday in Morocco, where he flew at the end of November after a stay in hospital in Riyadh.

A presidential spokesman had initially talked briefly of severe fatigue when referring to Bongo’s illness.

Official statements did not give details of his condition, though some sources had referred to a possible stroke.

A photograph of Bongo and two videos without sound have been published since his arrival in Morocco, further fuelling rumours about his state of health.

The Bongo family has governed the oil-rich equatorial African nation for five decades and long maintained close ties with former colonial master France.

Diplomatic ties cooled after Ali Bongo was elected in 2009 following his father’s death and French authorities launched a corruption investigation into the family’s assets.

AFP

Belgium’s Queen Paola Suffers Stroke

Belgium’s map

 

Queen Paola, the mother of King Philippe of Belgium, suffered a stroke while on a visit to Venice, Belgian and Italian media reported on Wednesday.

Paola, 81, will be repatriated to Belgium by plane on Wednesday, said Belgian state broadcaster RTBF.

Contacted by AFP, the Royal Palace in Brussels declined to comment. “A communication is in preparation,” the palace said.

Queen Paola has already faced health problems: in September 2015, she was forced to respect a “total rest period” after heart trouble.

In 2017 she also broke her hip less than two months after fracturing a vertebra.

A native of Italy, Paola was the queen of Belgium during the twenty years of the reign of her husband, King Albert II, who ruled from 1993 until his abdication in 2013.

Paola is best known to Belgians for importing a touch of “dolce vita” to the Belgian monarchy in the 1960s, before becoming Queen after the sudden death of King Baudouin, Albert II’s brother.

Born Princess Paola Ruffo di Calabria, she spent her entire youth in Rome, where she met Prince Albert at the age of 21 at a reception held at the Belgian Embassy on the sidelines of Pope John XXIII’s induction ceremonies.

AFP

Country Singer Loretta Lynn Hospitalized After Suffering Stroke

Country music singer Loretta Lynn was hospitalized after suffering a stroke at her home in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, her official website said Friday (May 5).

Lynn, 85, was admitted to a Nashville hospital on Thursday where she is “under medical care and is responsive and expected to make a full recovery,” a statement on LorettaLynn.com said.

The singer’s upcoming shows have been postponed on advice of her doctors while she recovers, the statement added.

Lynn was scheduled to perform at the Carolina Theatre in Durham, North Carolina on Friday, and had performances lined up across the United States through November.

Born in Kentucky, Lynn carved a career in the country music scene with her down-home twangy voice, singing hits such as 1960’s “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl” and “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” released in 1970.

Former Israeli President, Shimon Peres Dies At 93

Shimon Peres, former israeli president, dies at 93, A former Israeli Prime Minister and President, Shimon Peres has been reported dead at the age of 93, after two weeks of suffering a stroke.

Initially the condition improved, before it suddenly took a turn for the worst and he eventually died on Wednesday, after a long battle with his health.

Mr Peres was one of the last of a generation of Israeli politicians, present at the new nation’s birth in 1948.

He served twice as the country’s prime minister and once as president.

He also won the Nobel peace prize in 1994 for his role in negotiating peace accords with the Palestinians a year earlier.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas issued a statement calling Peres’s death “a great loss to humanity and peace in the region”.

However, it was not clear if he would attend the funeral, which will take place on Friday at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl cemetery, in a section dedicated to “Great Leaders of the Nation”.

Among those expected to attend the funeral are: President Obama, Britain’s Prince Charles and U.S. Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton and her husband and former President Bill Clinton, the Israeli radio reported.

Saudi King Abdullahi Dies At 90

saudi kingIt’s a sad day in Saudi Arabia as they mourn the death of their king, Abdullahi, who died on Friday.

Salman, his brother has now become king as stated by the royal court in the world’s top oil exporter and birthplace of Islam said in an official statement.

Abdullahi, who is said to have been born 1924, had ruled Saudi Arabia as the king since 2005, but had run the country as de facto regent for a decade before his predecessor King Fahd suffered a debilitating stroke.

According to the state television, “His Highness Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and all members of the family and the nation mourn the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, who passed away at exactly 1a.m. this morning”.

King Salman has named his half-brother Muqrin as heir to the throne, rapidly moving to forestall any fears of succession.

American President Barack Obama also expressed condolences and saluted the late king’s commitment to close   ties saying, “As a leader, he was always candid and had the courage of his convictions,” Obama said in a statement.

“One of those convictions was his steadfast and passionate belief in the importance of the U.S.-Saudi relationship as a force for stability and security in the Middle East and beyond.”

In contrast, radical Sunni Islamist militants who want the kingdom’s destruction rejoiced on Twitter and on hardline online forums, with some praying that God make the death of a man they see as a “tyrant” the beginning of the end for Saudi Arabia.

Abdullah pushed cautious changes in the conservative Islamic kingdom including increased women’s rights and economic deregulation, but made no moves towards democracy.

According to Jamal Khashoggi, the head of a news station owned by Saudi’s prince, Salam will continue with Abdullah’s reforms. He also added that King Abdullahi was not conservative in person, but he values the opinion of the conservative constituency of the country.