, (Reuters) - The health of Gabon's President Ali Ben Bongo has greatly improved and he is recovering his physical abilities, his office said on Sunday, after sources said last month he suffered a stroke.
Bongo was admitted to hospital on Oct. 24 in Saudi Arabia after the stroke, the sources said, though Gabonese authorities said he was merely suffering from fatigue. One TV station in Gabon has been banned for reporting he had died.
The Bongo family has ruled for nearly half a century in Gabon, a country in central Africa that produces oil and was a French colony before independence. Bongo has been president since succeeding his father, Omar, who died in 2009.
Opposition leader Jean Ping last weekend re-opened a row over the violently disputed 2016 election, which Bongo narrowly won on a 95 percent result in the Bongo family stronghold, which recorded a turnout of more than 99 percent. Riots erupted after the results were announced.
"The state of health of His Excellency Mr Ali Bongo Ondimba, President of the Republic and head of state, has greatly improved," the presidency statement read out on state TV by his spokesman Ike Ngouoni said.
"This positive development has accelerated significantly in recent days. Today the President of the Republic is in the process of recovering all of his physical abilities."
The statement said nothing about a stroke but said for the first time he had had "bleeding which required medical care."
"Ali Bongo Ondimba ... continues to carry out his duties. The institutions of our Republic therefore function today perfectly in the strict respect of the constitution," it said.
(Reporting by Gerauds Wilfried Obangome; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)