Gabon : Two newspapers suspended

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Flag of Gabon

On 8 October 2007, the National Communication Council (Conseil national de la communication, CNC), Gabon’s media regulatory body, suspended two newspapers: “La Nation”, a privately-owned bi-monthly based in the capital, Libreville, and “Le Gri-Gri International”, a satirical, privately-owned bi-monthly published in Paris, but distributed in Gabon.

In a statement that appeared on 8 October in the pro-government daily
“L’Union”, the regulatory body suspended “La Nation” for one month based on a complaint by Blandine Marundu ma Mihindou, Gabon’s minister of culture and the arts. In issue number 98, published in August, “La Nation” published an article, entitled “Does Blandine Marundi deserve to be a minister?”, which denounced the minister’s “resistance to change and lack of experience.”

Blaise Mengue-Mena, publisher of “La Nation,” told JED by telephone that his newspaper was summoned to appear before the CNC in late September, but the evidence presented was considered insufficient by the CNC.

In the same statement, the CNC banned the publication and distribution in Gabon of the newspaper “Le Gri-Gri International” until its status is “regularised.” The reason is reportedly the fact that the newspaper’s last issue was printed and distributed in Gabon even though the newspaper had allegedly never established itself as a Gabonese press outlet.

Meanwhile, the printing firm VDP and the distributor Sogapresse were ordered to no longer offer their services to “Le Gri-Gri International” until the newspaper had regularised its situation with the Gabonese authorities.

On 25 September, issue number 78 of the Gabonese edition of “Le Gri-Gri International,” which was to appear on 27 September, was censured “because of its content” by VDP printers, thereby preventing the distribution of this issue in Gabon.

The newspaper’s front page referred to the announcement, a few days earlier, by President Omar Bongo (nicknamed “Mullah Omar”) of the imminent development of the iron mines in Belinga, located in the north-eastern province of Ougooué-Ivindo, describing it as a “Gabonese deception.” The newspaper also expressed concern about pollution and ecosystem destruction at the local and national level as a result of this development.

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