Speaker steps in as Gabon president

African country gets first female leader following death of long-standing president.

    Rogombe is Gabon's first female president and
    will rule for a transitional period [AFP]

    Bongo, who died in Spain, was reportedly being treated for cancer. On Monday, Jean-Eyeghe Ndong, the prime minister, said he had died of a heart attack.

    Rogombe, 66, will have most of the powers of an elected president apart from authority to dissolve parliament or to hold referendums, court officials said.

    She is constitutionally ineligible from standing in the presidential poll, due to be held between 30 and 45 days.

    Vacuum averted

    The government acted fast to avert a power vacuum after Bongo, Africa's longest-serving head of state, died in a Barcelona hospital.

    Rogombe was born in 1942 at Lambarene, 240km southeast of Libreville.

    A trained lawyer and member of the Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG) founded by Bongo, Rogombe was elected senate president for six years last February.

    "We saw the ceremony with some satisfaction because she's a woman but there was also plenty of emotion and tears because of the president's death," Francoise Makaya, a PDG politician, said.

    In a country observing 30 days of mourning, national and international tributes will be paid until June 18, when the late president's body will be taken for burial to his native Franceville region in the east.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    From Qatar to Alaska, a personal journey exploring what it means to belong when your culture is endangered.