Page last updated at 14:43 GMT, Wednesday, 10 June 2009 15:43 UK

Gabon's interim leader sworn in

Rose Francine Rogombe (from Gabon's Senate website:
Rose Francine Rogombe fills a power vacuum left by Omar Bongo's death

The speaker of the senate in Gabon has been sworn in as the country's interim head of state, following the recent death of President Omar Bongo.

Under the constitution, Rose Francine Rogombe, an ally of Mr Bongo, must organise elections within 45 days.

On Thursday, Mr Bongo's body will be repatriated from Spain where he had been undergoing medical treatment.

Access to the internet in the oil-rich nation remains cut off, but the state's borders have been reopened.

Minute's silence

Ms Rogombe was sworn in at the International Conference Centre in the capital, Libreville, on Wednesday morning, a day after her appointment was confirmed by the constitutional court.

The late President Omar Bongo of Gabon
Led Gabon for 42 years
Kept close economic and political ties with France
Oil money means Gabon officially one of richest countries in Africa
His son is defence minister
His daughter was his chief of staff
He denied corruption charges in French courts
Introduced multi-party elections in 1993 - opposition complained they were not fair

"I swear to devote all my strength to the good of the Gabonese people, with the aim of promoting its well-being and protecting it from all harm, to respect and defend the constitution and a state of law, and conscientiously to carry out my duties and to be fair to all," Ms Rogombe said.

Before she took the oath, a minute's silence was held in the memory of Mr Bongo, AFP news agency reports.

The death of the 73-year-old president, who was Africa's longest-serving leader, was announced on Monday.

The government said Mr Bongo, who had led Gabon since 1967, had died of a heart attack, hours after saying he was alive and well.

It emerged in May the president was being treated in a Barcelona clinic, amid unconfirmed reports he had cancer.

On Thursday the late president's body will arrive back in the country where it will lie in state at the presidential palace in the capital.

He will be buried at Franceville in the Bateke region of his birth in south-east Gabon on Thursday of next week.

On Tuesday, Mr Bongo's son - Defence Minister Ali-Ben Bongo - appealed for calm following his father's death.

Observers say the ruling Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG) has been deciding who should succeed him, with his 50-year-old son a leading contender.

The BBC's Linel Kwatsi, in Libreville, says the security forces are keeping a low profile on the capital's streets, which are quieter than usual.

Gabon Telecom says the internet, cut since Sunday, has been hit by an optical fibre technical fault.

But many believe the government has ordered the company to take Gabon off-line so as to control access to information in the aftermath of the president's death.

The city's mayor has banned large gatherings and ordered nightclubs and bars to close, while security forces are on patrol.

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