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Gabon opposition figure rallies support as president hospitalised

FILE PHOTO: Gabonese opposition leader Jean Ping

Libreville, Gabon | AFP | Gabonese opposition politician Jean Ping on Saturday repeated his claim to have won 2016 elections as President Ali Bongo Ondimba remained in hospital in Saudi Arabia.

Ping has continued to describe himself as “the elected president” following his defeat by a few thousand votes in controversial polls two years ago that were marred by bloodshed.

Breaking several months’ silence on the issue, Ping said he wanted to speak to all Gabonese citizens and called on them to “transcend their divisions and place the nation above our individual ethnic or clan interests”.

In a “speech to the nation” from his home in Libreville, he called for citizens faced with the “worst turbulence” in Gabon’s history to “gather around a common ideal”.

“This ideal was clearly defined on August 27, 2016, when you mainly elected me at the polls, with the fundamental objective of removing the Gabonese people from fear and need,” he said.

Bongo, 59, fell ill last ten days ago during a visit to Riyadh to attend an economic forum in the Saudi capital.

His spokesman Ike Ngouoni has said that doctors there had diagnosed him with “severe fatigue” and ordered bed rest.

Bongo took over as leader of the oil-rich equatorial African nation in 2009 on the death of his father Omar Bongo, who had ruled since 1967.

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