Gabon’s former president Ali Bongo, who was ousted in a coup, is free to leave the country and travel abroad, the leader of the coup that toppled him, have disclosed.
“He has freedom of movement… and can travel abroad if he wishes,” general Brice Oligui Nguema said in a statement read on state television.
Bongo, in power for 14 years, had been under house arrest since the military coup of August 30, carried out without bloodshed less than an hour after his party proclaimed his re-election in a vote described as fraudulent by the putschists.
“Given his state of health, the former President of the Republic Ali Bongo Ondimba has freedom of movement. He can travel abroad if he wishes to carry out his medical checks,” Colonel Ulrich Manfoumbi Manfoumbi said, reading a press release signed by Oligui took his oath as transitional president on Monday.
Bongo suffered a serious stroke in October 2018 which left him physically impaired, with particular difficulty moving his right leg and arm.
Bongo took office in 2009, succeeding his father Omar, who ruled the country for some 41 years, gaining a reputation for iron-fisted rule and kleptocracy.
He was re-elected in bitterly disputed circumstances in 2016 but two years later suffered a stroke that weakened his grip on power.
According to the official disputed results, Bongo picked up 64.27 percent of the vote against 30.77 percent for Ondo Ossa.
In the immediate aftermath of the coup, Ondo Ossa urged Oligui to step aside, arguing that he had won the elections but the outcome had now been “cancelled” by the military takeover.
He also suggested that Oligui and Bongo were connected by family ties, and that the event was less a coup than a “palace revolution” that was now perpetuating what he called the “Bongo system.”