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Bongo Banishes Edzombolo

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  • bobutne
    Committee to Protect Journalists (New York) March 5, 2007 The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed that authorities in the capital, Libreville, have
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 5, 2007
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      Committee to Protect Journalists (New York)
      March 5, 2007

      The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed that authorities in
      the capital, Libreville, have suspended a satirical newspaper for
      three months, apparently after it published commentary critical of
      President Omar Bongo, according to news reports and local journalists.

      The official National Communications Council (CNC) suspended the
      private bimonthly Edzombolo on Tuesday for allegedly
      publishing "defamatory and insulting news directed at prominent state
      personalities," according to local journalists and the news Web site
      Gabonews. The CNC did not identify the allegedly defamatory coverage;
      CNC officials did not immediately return messages from CPJ seeking
      comment.


      But the ruling appeared to be related to a February 9 editorial
      headlined, "Omar does not control anything anymore," according to CPJ
      sources. The article alleged that Bongo had lost touch with the
      concerns of his people, becoming "stubborn and deaf … like a wicked
      dictator anointed by God." Bongo has run the oil-rich equatorial
      African country for 39 years and is now Africa's longest-serving head
      of state. The piece also discussed elections for an administrative
      parliamentary committee, which opposition parties had boycotted for
      alleged procedural irregularities, local journalists told CPJ.
      Bongo's ruling Gabonese Democratic Party holds 81 out of 120 seats in
      parliament.

      "We condemn the suspension of Edzombolo, which appears to be a
      blatant retaliation for its critical commentary," said CPJ Executive
      Director Joel Simon. "We demand that the ban be lifted immediately
      and that the authorities refrain from attempts to intimidate the
      media."

      Edzombolo Director Jean de Dieu Ndoutoume told CPJ that he expects to
      file a lawsuit challenging the ban, claiming that he was denied a
      hearing as required by law, and arguing that the suspensions exceeded
      the CNC's authority. Ndoutoume's paper has been harassed previously.
      In June 2006, Ndoutoume was detained by police for two days without
      charge, and authorities confiscated about 3,000 copies of his paper
      in retribution for articles alleging governmental corruption,
      according to local journalists.

      Norbert Mezui, president of the Gabonese private press association
      (known by its French acronym as APPEL), said that the CNC has
      routinely ignored its own procedures and regulations. He said APPEL
      members are meeting this weekend to prepare a statement.

      Gabonese authorities have jailed journalists and banned newspapers in
      recent months over critical stories. The private weekly Les Echos du
      Nord was suspended for three months in October 2006 in connection
      with an article critical of government policy; the term was reduced
      to one month following a hunger strike by Director Désiré Ename. Also
      in October, the editor of a Libreville weekly was imprisoned for 21
      days on a defamation charge. Norbert Ngoua Mezui said he was wrongly
      jailed for coverage alleging the disappearance of treasury funds.

      CPJ is a New York–based, independent, nonprofit organization that
      works to safeguard press freedom worldwide. For more information,
      visit www.cpj.org.

      http://allafrica.com/stories/200703050997.html
    • bobutne
      On the other side of that coin- http://www.cpj.org/news/2007/americas/usa05mar07na.html
      Message 2 of 2 , Mar 6, 2007
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