Gabon’s top court had ruled that the vice president will chair the cabinet in the absence of President Ali Bongo, who had remained in hospital in Saudi Arabia.
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 had not been seen in public since his state of health. The government had 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 confirmed his death but says details of his burial will be unveiled to media in due course.