President Ali Bongo gives first televised speech since he suffered a stroke

Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba has called upon his Prime Minister to form a new government.

The 60-year-old made the call in his first televised speech since he returned to the country after a long absence during which he sought treatment for a stroke.

President Ali Bongo called for a smaller government that was capable of being “exemplary, honest and ethical”.

This call for an “honest” government comes following last month's sacking of his vice president and forestry minister who is accused of smuggling precious timber.

In late February and early March, authorities uncovered and seized 392 containers with 5,000 cubic metres of illegally felled kevazingo wood, worth some $250m, in the port of Owendo.

President Ali Bongo returned to Gabon in late March after several months in Morocco, where he was recuperating from his illness.

He suffered a stroke in October last year during an official visit to Saudi Arabia.

Saturday's televised speech came as Gabon marked the 10th anniversary of the death of former president and Ali Bongo's father, Omar Bongo Ondimba.

President Ali Bongo took office in 2009 after winning an election that was organized following the death of his father.