Gabon’s President Ali Bongo on Saturday made a rare public appearance to attend the country’s independence day celebrations, nearly ten months after suffering a stroke that fueled speculation about his ability to rule.

Bongo, whose every move is scrutinised for signs of his state of health, on Friday made his first public appearance since his illness, taking part in events on the eve of celebrations to mark Gabon’s 1960 independence from France.

The public outings were the first time Gabonese have seen their leader beyond the presidential palace since he fell ill last October, except for appearances filmed and edited by Gabonese government or state media.

Standing in an army vehicle, in a dark suit and dark glasses, Bongo arrived on Saturday for the military parade on Libreville’s main boulevard along the capital’s seafront. He used a long cane to walk to an observation stand, applauded by dignitaries there and he climbed the stairs by himself to his seat, next to his wife Sylvia Bongo