Gabon Leader hospitalised

May 21, 2009 12:00 am

, BARCELONA, May 21 – President Omar Bongo Ondimba of Gabon, Africa’s longest-serving ruler, is in serious condition in a hospital in Spain suffering from a tumour, a Spanish newspaper said Thursday.

Bongo, 73, was taken to the Quiron clinic in the northeastern city of Barcelona more than two weeks ago, the Barcelona-based daily La Vanguardia said in its online edition, quoting medical and diplomatic sources.

It also quoted Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos as saying the Gabonese president was in a "very bad" condition.

A non-Spanish source told AFP that Bongo was suffering from intestinal cancer, but did not reveal if he had undergone an operation.

The source said Bongo had suffered a haemorrhage as he was being transferred to Spain. He is accompanied by his entourage, including his daughter Pascaline Bongo.

Bongo announced on May 6 that he was "temporarily" suspending his duties to rest and mourn the death last month of his wife, Edith Lucie Bongo Odimba, daughter of Congo President Denis Sassou Nguesso.

The surprise announcement came only a few hours after a French judge announced he would launch a landmark investigation into whether Bongo and two other African presidents plundered state coffers to buy luxury homes and cars in France.

Bongo has been president of the former French colony in west Africa since 1967.

He built a powerful dynasty in the country which has benefited from the discovery of oil, although much of the wealth is concentrated in a small proportion of the 1.5 million population.


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