Gabon's president Bongo is dead

9th June 2009, Comments 0 comments

Africa's longest serving leader Omar Bongo Ondimba died at a clinic in Barcelona on Monday, reports Spanish media.

Madrid – Spanish media reported that Gabon's President Omar Bongo Ondimba, Africa's longest serving leader, died at a clinic in Barcelona on Monday.

The Barcelona newspaper La Vanguardia and the Europa Press news agency both quoted sources close to his entourage as saying 73-year-old Bongo, who has ruled Gabon for 41 years, died at 2:00pm (1200 GMT) in the Quiron clinic.

The clinic and the Spanish government refused to comment on the reports.

Bongo entered the clinic in early May. Gabon's government has insisted he was undergoing a medical check-up, but several sources said he was being treated for intestinal cancer, which they said had reached an advanced stage.

Gabon's Prime Minister Jean Eyeghe Ndong earlier denied reports that the president had died on Sunday.

"Omar Bongo Ondimba is alive and well," Ndong said in Barcelona after he and several cabinet ministers and family members visited the president.

French magazine Le Point had quoted a source close to Bongo's entourage late Sunday as saying that Bongo had died. A French government source also told AFP Bongo had died.

Those reports prompted the Gabon government prompted to summon France's ambassador to protest.

Bongo announced on 6 May that he was temporarily suspending his duties in order to rest and mourn the death in March of his wife, Edith Lucie Bongo Ondimba, 45, the daughter of Congo President Denis Sassou-Nguesso.

Bongo came to power with French support and ruled over a state that stuffed its coffers with profits from its abundant oil wealth, while most of the 1.5 million population remained poor.

In recent months, he has been embroiled in a row with Paris over a French inquiry into luxury properties he had bought in France and claims by anti-corruption activists they were acquired with embezzled state funds.

AFP / Expatica

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