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Gabon's long-serving leader 'hospitalized'

GABONESE President Omar Bongo, one of the longest-serving heads of state, has been hospitalized in a serious condition in Barcelona, Spain's Foreign Ministry said yesterday.

Gabon's information minister denied yesterday that Bongo was ill.

A Foreign Ministry official in Madrid would not say what 73-year-old Bongo is suffering from, but said he is in "serious but stable" condition.

A Gabon-based African diplomat said Bongo was suffering from diabetes and prostate cancer.

Bongo has ruled Gabon since 1967, and last year he became the world's longest-ruling president. The monarchs of Britain and Thailand have been heads of state longer.

Speaking by phone from Libreville, Gabon, Information Minister Laure Olga Gondjout denied Bongo was ill.

"It's false. I will tell you simply that he is in good health and that, according to our tradition, he is observing a period of mourning following the death of his wife," she said.


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