Gabonese junta frees Bongo on 'health grounds'

Ali Bongo

This video grab taken from a video obtained by AFPTV from X, formerly Twitter, account @TVGABON24 on September 6, 2023 shows deposed president of Gabon, Ali Bongo Ondimba shows at his residence in Libreville. Gabon's former president Ali Bongo, who was ousted in a putsch, is free to leave the country and travel abroad the leader of the coup that toppled him said on September 6, 2023.

Photo credit: Twitter | @TVGABON 24 via AFP

A week after his ouster, former Gabonese President Ali Bongo can now move about freely.

Gen Brice Oligui Nguema, the Chairman of the Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions, also the transitional President, said on Wednesday night that Bongo was a free man.

In a statement broadcast on Gabonese state television channel Gabon 24, Col Ulrich Manfoumbi, the spokesman for the ruling junta, said that “given his state of health, former president Ali Bongo Ondimba is free to move about. He may, if he wishes, travel abroad to undergo medical check-ups.”

After losing power in a coup on August 30, Ali Bongo was kept under house arrest.

The former head of state had suffered a stroke in 2018 while on an official visit to Saudi Arabia. The illness kept him out of office for almost 10 months. During this time, he was treated in Morocco.

Since his illness, the former president has suffered some after-effects in the way he speaks and walks, but he himself says that he was “feeling better.”

A few hours after taking power on August 30, General Brice Oligui Nguema cited Bongo’s illness as one of the reasons why the army took power. Brice Oligui stated that Ali Bongo had been “retired now.”