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Opposition press suspended; criticism of state pushed aside

Since Ali Bongo won presidential elections in Gabon this August, the press has been suffering severe censorship for its criticism of election results and government officials.
Since Ali Bongo won presidential elections in Gabon this August, the press has been suffering severe censorship for its criticism of election results and government officials.

Daniel Magnowski via Reuters

A state-run media-monitoring body suspended six private newspapers and a television program in Gabon on 10 November in an effort to silence criticism of recent elections results and members of government, report IFEX members.

All the suspended publications had written articles critical of the election process in August, reports the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). During the presidential elections, Gabonese authorities heavily censored and harassed local and foreign journalists.

According to IFEX members, "Echos du Nord" received the most severe restriction - a three-month suspension for an article it carried in its 29 October issue: "The first fruits of a hooligan state." "Nku'u Le Messager" and "Le Crocodile" were suspended for one month, and "Le Scriboullard", "L'Ombre" and "La Nation" for two months. Two other private publications, "Le Temps" and "Gabon d'Abord", received a warning to "maintain professional standards."

In addition, an extremely popular television programme, "Entre nous", on the private TV station Canal Espoir, was suspended. The program offered a space for the public to be critical of those on air.

The National Communications Council (CNC) accused several media outlets of "wholesale relaying of public rumours" and "spreading ethnic divisions, insults and slander," according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

Norbert Ngoua Mezui, director of the "Nku'u le Messager" newspaper and president of the Gabonese private press association, told RSF he was afraid that the CNC tactics might be just the beginning of measures aimed at gagging the press. He also told CPJ that the council did not provide details about the newspapers' specific press violations.

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Abraji registra más de 130 casos de violencia contra periodistas en el contexto político-electoral… https://t.co/0Bw1MLAnx4

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