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Benin admits president had surgery while in Paris

19 June 2017 | Africa
Benin President Patrice Talon's month-long absence prompted speculation about his health.  By THIERRY CHARLIER (AFP/File)
Benin President Patrice Talon's month-long absence prompted speculation about his health. By THIERRY CHARLIER (AFP/File)

Cotonou (AFP) - Benin President Patrice Talon underwenttwo surgeries during a prolonged stay in Paris, one procedure due to doctors finding a lesion in his prostate, his office said Monday.

The admission comes weeks after Talon's absence, which lasted nearly a month, had been a hot topic in the tiny West African nation, prompting the government to deny rumours that he was ill.

"During his last health check, a lesion was found at an early stage in his prostate," the president's office said in a statement, but the operation allowed him to recover "without the use of chemotherapy or radiation".

The statement made no mention of the word cancer.

The 59-year-old president returned to Benin on Sunday with his office releasing the statement following a special cabinet meeting.

Talon underwent a second operation to his digestive system, the statement added, when complications arose after the first operation. The second surgery "also went well," it said.

Talon "has completely recovered" and "is fully exercising his constitutional duties," according to his office, which said an ordinary cabinet meeting is scheduled for Wednesday.

The statement on Monday was a rare example of an African leader publicly revealing health details, but his office said it was important for him to inform his fellow countrymen about the state of his health.

The health of presidents in Africa remains a taboo subject on the continent. Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari has spent much of his time in London since the beginning of the year for health reasons that have not been publicly disclosed.

Because of his health, Talon missed the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) summit held in Liberia on June 4 and a cabinet meeting of his senior ministers on May 31.

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