Gabon’s top court has ruled that the vice president will chair the cabinet in the absence of President Ali Bongo, who remains in hospital in Saudi Arabia after suffering a stroke last month.
The decision, announced by the constitutional court on Wednesday, is the first move to fill the vacuum left after Bongo was admitted to hospital during a conference on Oct. 24.
Bongo has not been seen in public since and his state of health is unknown. The government said he suffered a bout of fatigue and is recovering, but sources told Reuters that he had a stroke.
“Only the president has the power to chair the Council of Ministers. Unfortunately he is temporarily unavailable for health reasons, and temporary unavailability is not addressed by the constitution,” said Gabon’s Prime Minister Emmanuel Issoze Ngondet, who leads the cabinet.
The Bongo family has ruled the oil-producing country for nearly half a century. Bongo has been president since succeeding his father, Omar, who died in 2009. His re-election in 2016 was marred by claims of fraud and violent protest.
Al-Qaeda Confirms Death Of AQAP Leader Qasim Al-Raymi
Al-Qaeda has confirmed the death of Qasim al-Raymi, the leader of Islamist group al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the Site Intelligence Group reported on Sunday.
US President Donald Trump announced earlier this month that the United States had killed al-Raymi in a counterterrorism operation in Yemen.
The United States regards AQAP as one of the deadliest branches of the al Qaeda network founded by Osama bin Laden.
JUST IN: Israel Confirms Its First Case Of Coronavirus
The virus was confirmed in a citizen who flew home from Japan earlier this week after being quarantined on the stricken cruise ship Diamond Princess.
“One of the passengers who returned home from the cruise ship in Japan tested positive in a checkup by the health ministry’s central laboratory,” a ministry statement said.
The statement added that the other dozen Israeli passengers who had flown home had all tested negative.
BREAKING: Two Test Positive For Coronavirus In Iran
Two people in Iran tested positive Wednesday for the deadly new coronavirus, the health ministry said in the Islamic republic’s first cases of the disease.
Kianoush Jahanpour, a ministry spokesman, said the cases were detected in the holy city of Qom, south of the Iranian capital.
“In the past two days, some suspect cases of the new coronavirus were observed in Qom city,” he said, quoted by state news agency IRNA.
“Teams were dispatched after receiving the reports, and based on the existing protocols the suspect cases were isolated and tested,” said Jahanpour.
“Out of the samples sent, a laboratory tested two of them as positive for coronavirus just minutes ago and some of the other samples were type B influenza.”
The health ministry spokesman said additional tests were being done on the two cases and final results would be announced “as soon as possible”.
The new coronavirus epidemic has killed more than 2,000 people in China and infected more than 74,000. It has spread to at least two dozen countries.
The United Arab Emirates was the first country in the Middle East to report cases of coronavirus last month.