Gabon’s deposed president ‘free to move’ abroad

Gabon’s former President Ali Bongo, who was ousted by the military last week, is free to travel out of the country if he wishes after the transitional president allowed him freedom on Wednesday.

“Given his state of health, the former president of the Republic, Ali Bongo Ondimba, is free to move around,” Col. Ulrich Manfoumbi, a spokesman for the Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions (CTRI), the formation created in the aftermath of the coup, said on national television.

“He can travel abroad if he wishes to carry out his medical check-up,” he said, reading a statement by transitional President Gen. Brice Oligui Nguema.

Last week, a group of senior Gabonese army officers appeared on national television and announced that they had seized power and put Bongo under house arrest.

The move came shortly after the Gabonese Election Center confirmed that incumbent President Bongo had officially won a third term as president with 64.27% of the vote.

Gen. Nguema was sworn in on Monday as the country’s transitional head of state.

Bongo, who suffered a serious stroke in October 2018 which left him physically impaired, with particular difficulty moving his right leg and arm, was in power for more than a decade.

His freedom was reportedly brokered by the President of the Central African Republic, Faustin-Archange Touadera, who met Nguema in the capital Libreville on Tuesday as an envoy of the Commission of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) bloc.

Reports indicated that Bongo could travel to Morocco, Saudi Arabia or the UK.

ECCAS on Monday suspended Gabon’s membership in the wake of the coup, but the future of Bongo, who until his ouster served as the chairperson of the bloc, featured in the discussions between Touadera and Nguema. ​​​​​​​

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