, PARIS, June 11 – President Nicolas Sarkozy will travel to Libreville to attend the funeral of Gabon’s late president Omar Bongo Ondimba on Tuesday, the French leader’s office said.
Africa’s longest-serving leader, Bongo died on Monday aged 73 in a clinic in the Spanish city of Barcelona. His remains were flown back Thursday to his homeland, which has declared a month-long period of mourning.
During more than four decades in power, Bongo maintained close ties with Paris, outlasting a string of French presidents from Charles de Gaulle to Socialist Francois Mitterand and Sarkozy’s predecessor Jacques Chirac.
Tensions appeared when Sarkozy promised to revamp France’s traditional ties with African countries and a French probe into corruption had further unsettled the cozy relationship between Paris and Libreville.
But Sarkozy paid tribute to Bongo as a loyal friend of France and has said Paris stands by its former colony, which hosts a French military base, in the wake of his death.