Gabonese Government Suspends Multiple Publications
Gabonese Government Suspends Multiple Publications
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Gabon's National Communications Council has suspended at least six publications for what it says are ethical violations of journalism.  Press freedom groups in West Africa and the United States have condemned the Gabon council's actions.

Less than three months after the election of president Ali Bongo, the government-controlled media-monitoring body in Gabon has suspended six private newspapers.

The International Federation of Journalists' office in Dakar has condemned the government's actions.  

A program officer for the group, Libasse Hane, says a Gabonese journalist, who also works for a publication that supports an opposition leader, told him the National Communications Council says the six suspended papers were inciting tribalism.  The state said the papers violated "the ethics of journalism."

Hane says its difficult to judge whether the publications were inciting tribalism.

Hane adds parts of the population are against the suspension.

Every suspended publication has written articles that criticized the recent electoral process in Gabon.

This September, Ali Bongo was elected president after the death of his father, President Omar Bongo who ruled Gabon for 41 years.  Opposition leaders have disputed  the election results, but a court declared the victory of the younger Bongo.

The New York based non-profit group the Committee to Protect Journalists, has also condemned the West African government's actions.  The group says it learned the suspensions will last from one to three months.  

The Committee to Protect Journalists said that one affected call-in television show on station Canal Espoir, allowed callers to openly criticize individuals on the air.

After Ali Bongo was announced the victor in presidential elections in September, there were riots in some parts of the country, including the oil hub, Port Gentil.  Gabon is Africa's sixth-largest exporter of oil, but despite a per-capita gross domestic product of $14,000, the United Nations estimates that 70 percent of the country's people live below the poverty line.  

Before his death this year, Omar Bongo's French bank accounts were frozen as part of an investigation into African leaders embezzling public funds.  The anti-corruption group Transparency International says more than 30 Bongo family properties in France, worth nearly $200 million, could not have been purchased on his state salary alone.

The Bongo family denies any wrongdoing.  A French judge threw out the case last month saying Transparency International does not have the legal standing to take civil action.