March 14, 2009 / 9:18 PM / 10 years ago

Wife of Gabon's President Bongo dies: report

Gabon President Omar Bongo Ondimba (C) and his wife Edith Lucie are welcomed by Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore (R) in this November 26, 2004 file image. REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen

LIBREVILLE (Reuters) - The wife of Gabonese President Omar Bongo, who was a symbol of the tight links between two veteran central African leaders, died Saturday in Morocco, the Presidency said.

The death of Edith Lucie Bongo was announced on state television by Presidency spokesman Robert Orango Berre. He gave no details about the cause of her death.

She had spent weeks in a hospital in Morocco’s capital Rabat, according to diplomatic sources and media reports.

Edith Bongo was the daughter of President Denis Sassou Nguesso of neighboring Republic of Congo, and represented Nguesso’s close alliance with Bongo, Africa’s longest-serving leader who has ruled Gabon since 1967.

The two oil-producing countries enjoy significant regional influence and close ties with the political establishment in former colonial power France.

Both leaders have been targeted by legal action brought in France by anti-corruption campaigners who say their personal property portfolios could not be financed through their official earnings. Both have denied wrongdoing.

Writing by Alistair Thomson; Editing by Katie Nguyen

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