Gabonese PM says has no news about death of President Bongo
Gabonese Prime Minister Jean Eyeghe Ndong has said that he has no news about the death of President Omar Bongo, Xinhua reported.
The prime minister made the remarks late on Sunday night on the Gabonese national television.
The remarks came soon after the reports from France 24 television that President Bongo had died.
Ndong said he, as a prime minister of the country, should be informed if the president dies.
The prime minister said that he knew nothing about it.
He and his fellow citizens were surprised by the news from France 24 television that President Bongo had died.
"If such a situation happens, I think and I know that the family of President Bongo would naturally inform me."
" This is not the case at the moment," the prime minister added.
According to earlier reports, Bongo had stayed away from public appearance after his wife died since March.
Gabon's first lady, the daughter of the Republic of Congo's President Denis Sassou Nguesso, passed away on March 14 in Rabat, the capital of Morocco.
President Bongo left for Europe early this month, sparking a spate of media speculation which said he was "seriously ill."
Denying the media reports, the Gabonese government, however, said earlier that President Bongo only "suffered a strong shock of emotional intensity following the death of his spouse after a long illness."
The Gabonese government announced on May 6 that President Bongo had suspended duties in order to rest and mourn the death of his wife. Gabonese Vice President Didjob Divungi Di Ndinge was put in charge of state affairs in Bongo's absence.
Bongo has been at the helm of the country for 42 years since he came to power in 1967, the longest serving president in Africa.
Under his leadership, Gabon has enjoyed political stability and rapid economic growth while military coups ravaged several Western African countries, triggering concerns from the international community.
The youngest in a family of 12 children, Bongo was born on Dec. 30, 1935 in Lewai, a town of the Haut-Ogooue Province in southeastern Gabon near the border with the Republic of the Congo. Lewai was renamed Bongoville in honor of Bongo's work to develop the town.
After his primary and secondary education in Brazzaville, Bongo held a job at the Post and Telecommunications Public Services, before starting his military training. This training allowed him to serve as a second lieutenant and then as a first lieutenant in the Air Force.
After Gabon's independence in 1960, Bongo started his political career. He worked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a time, and he was named Assistant Director of the Presidential Cabinet in March 1962. He was named Director seven months later.
On Sept. 24, 1965, he was appointed as Presidential Representative and placed in charge of defense and coordination. He was then Minister of Information and Tourism, initially on an interim basis, then formally holding the position in August 1966.
Leon M'ba, the first President of Gabon whose health was declining, appointed Bongo as Vice-President on Nov. 12, 1966. In the presidential election held on March 19, 1967, M'ba was re- elected as President and Bongo was elected alongside him as Vice- President.
Bongo became President on Dec. 2, 1967 following the death of M'ba on Nov. 28.
Bongo has given himself the image of a peacemaker, playing an important role in attempts to solve the crises in the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.