Gabon’s President Omar Bongo, Africa’s longest-serving ruler, is not dead, the country’s prime minister said Monday, contradicting reports from Gabonese and French media.
Prime Minister Jean Eyeghe Ndong “deplored” French media reports that Bongo had died, saying he had met the president Monday morning. He vowed to lodge a protest with the French authorities about “repeated leaks in the French press.” Bongo, 73, has been receiving treatment for intestinal cancer at the Quiron clinic in Barcelona, Spain, according to the Gabonews agency, which also reported Bongo’s death earlier. Spain’s Foreign Ministry confirmed to CNN that Bongo is alive. He is in Quiron hospital in Barcelona, Spain for a “comprehensive health check,” the prime minister said in a statement. “This morning I visited the President, accompanied by the President of the National Assembly, the Foreign Minister, the head of the President’s cabinet and senior members of the presidential family and after a meeting with the medical team we can confirm that the President is alive,” the statement said. Bongo took power in 1967, seven years after the West African country’s independence from France. He imposed one-party rule a year after succeeding the country’s first president, who died in office. He allowed multiparty elections after a new constitution in 1991, but his party has retained control of the government since then.