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RE: [Gabon Discussion] Gabon Annual Report from Reporters Without Borders

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  • C Yombi
    Here is an interesting side note - the recently invited new stage of PC volunteers has been uninvited and offered new assignments in other countries. The
    Message 1 of 4 , May 18, 2004
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      Here is an interesting side note - the recently "invited" new stage of PC
      volunteers has been "uninvited" and offered new assignments in other
      countries. The reasons being sited were financial and security concerns.

      One potential new Gabon PCV who was reassigned put it this way, "the reason
      that they gave for the Gabon partial shut-down is that they said that many
      of the programs were not up to snuff there and the cost (since Gabon is so
      expensive) to bring them "up to code" was going to be prohibitively
      expensive. It's funny that they didn't mention the programs' troubles and
      problems when they wanted to send me there. Now all of a sudden, they talk
      about all these issues, but before it was "no problem."

      Interesting for a country that some say is doing so well and prospering.




      >From: "bobutne" <bobutne@...>
      >Reply-To: gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com
      >To: gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com
      >Subject: [Gabon Discussion] Gabon Annual Report from Reporters Without
      >Borders
      >Date: Tue, 18 May 2004 02:24:35 -0000
      >
      >http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=10161
      >
      >The war between President Omar Bongo and the opposition press
      >continued. Bongo did not hesitate to summon journalists if they were
      >too critical of him. Censorship has not gone away.
      >
      >President Bongo has been in power since 1967, knows the press well
      >and understands how important it is. He is aware of the damage an
      >independent press could do him. But he is also aware of the
      >importance attached to freedom of expression and the effect a harsh
      >crackdown would have on donors. So journalist were subjected to more
      >insidious and discreet forms of pressure.
      >The government did not hesitate to spend a lot of money to buy
      >newspapers or journalists. Communication minister Medhi Teale
      >announced a grant of 500 million CFA francs (762,000 euros) for the
      >independent news media on 3 May 2003, on the occasion of World Press
      >Freedom Day, but he explained that it would go only to those media
      >that acted with "professionalism."
      >
      >The authorities in August accused "many print media" of excesses and
      >of "excelling in misinformation" and suggested the National
      >Communication Council (CNC) might have to take measures to "ensure
      >that the press functions appropriately." A few days later, the
      >communication minister called on the news media to support
      >the "social truce" by writing more "responsible" articles.
      >A few newspapers tried to denounce the government's excesses. When
      >parliament adopted a constitutional amendment on 29 July allowing
      >President Bongo to run for re-election as often as he likes, some
      >newspapers in Libreville voiced concern about the country's future.
      >The fortnightly La Sagaie wrote : "By turning Bongo into a President
      >for Life, [the constitutional amendment] will consign Gabon to the
      >category of republican monarchy for good." The newspaper also noted
      >that, "Bongo has fiddled with the constitution five times since the
      >return to a multi-party system in 1990." In its first number on 31
      >July, the fortnightly Sub-version headlined - referring to Omar
      >Bongo - "Who after 'Mullah' Omar ?". On the other hand, L'Union, the
      >only pro-governmental daily, wrote that this "historic day" had
      >ushered in a "new era for our democracy and our country."
      >
      >Four journalists detained
      >Abel Mimongo, Timoth�e Memey, Stanislas Boubanga and Chartrain of
      >the fortnightly Sub-version were detained by the aviation and border
      >police at Libreville airport on 17 September 2003 when they went to
      >collect the copies of their newspaper, which is printed in
      >neighbouring Cameroon. They were interrogated all morning, and Sub-
      >version was accused of trying to stir up "insurrection"
      >and "destabilise republican institutions."
      >
      >Three journalists threatened
      >The home of Total B�kal�, the president of the National Union of
      >Radio and TV Journalists, was ransacked during the night of 16
      >January 2003. The next day, staff at the public service radio
      >broadcaster Radio Gabon were told by an anonymous caller that their
      >colleague Pierre Ndong Mv� had been killed, when in fact Mv� was
      >safe and sound at home. Radio Gabon wondered what "the real motives
      >for this bad joke" were while senior staff voiced concern about the
      >threats that its journalists had been receiving for several months.
      >Blaise Itoumba, a correspondent for the fortnightly Misamu in the
      >southern province Ngouni�, was interrogated several times by the
      >local authorities in May. A police officer told Itoumba to submit
      >all his articles to him before sending them to his newspaper.
      >Catholic abbot No�l Ngwa Nguema, the founder of both the weekly
      >Misamu and the fortnightly Sub-version, was the victim of constant
      >harassment and intimidation. On 21 August, he was summoned by
      >President Bongo, who personally threatened him. Both of Nguema's
      >newspaper published many articles that were very critical of Bongo.
      >
      >Harassment and obstruction
      >"Agora," the only programme of debate on the public service TV
      >channel RTG 1, was withdrawn on 7 February 2003 after presenter Ass
      >Ndziengui hosted a debate the previous week on the reasons for the
      >low turnout in the country's elections and a guest blamed President
      >Bongo. Communication minister Mehdi Teale went to RTG 1 a few hours
      >after the debate was broadcast to obtain a videotape of the
      >programme and to summon the presenter and some of the station's
      >executives to the president's residence.
      >
      >The National Communication Council (CNC) ordered the weekly Misamu
      >to stop publishing on 12 May. Officially, this was because of an
      >ownership dispute between Sen. Jean-Pierre Nzoghe Nguema, the former
      >leader of an opposition party, and Abbot No�l Ngwa Nguema, the
      >newspaper's founder. But the order came after Misamu published a
      >report accusing finance ministry secretary-general Eyamba Tsima
      >Maurice Nestor of involvement in the death of an aide to Pascaline
      >Bongo, the president eldest daughter and chief of staff.
      >The CNC closed down the weekly Le Temps on 15 May for three months
      >because of a report about government financing for independence day
      >ceremonies that was headlined : "More than 50 billion CFA francs
      >splurged in two nights." The CNC said the report was "liable to
      >undermine the nation's credibility."
      >Communication minister Medhi Teale in August accused two
      >fortnightlies, Sub-version and La Sagaie, of "violating the dignity
      >of honest citizens." The following month, police confiscated the
      >third issue of Sub-version on 17 September at the border with
      >Cameroon, where it is printed, and detained four of its staff
      >members. The CNC banned La Sagaie the next day, accusing it of
      >appealing to tribalism and disturbing the peace, and accusing its
      >journalists of trying to shirk their responsibilities by using
      >pseudonyms.
      >In a lawsuit against the fortnightly Sub-version at the end of
      >October, President Bongo and his wife, Edith Lucie Bongo, claimed
      >that they had been insulted and demanded 300 million CFA francs
      >(460,000 euros) in damages. The suit, which was due to be heard in
      >March 2004, was prompted by an article in the 20 August issue that
      >was headlined : "Edith Lucie Bongo : a political figure ?"
      >Police at Libreville airport on 12 December seized all the copies of
      >the second issue of L'Autre Journal, an independent fortnightly
      >which had been started up the previous month and which was being
      >printed in neighbouring Cameroon. The newspaper's editor, Marco
      >Boukoukou Boussaga, died three days in still unclear circumstances
      >as a result of sudden haemorrhaging. Two days after that, on 18
      >December, the CNC announced that it was closing the newspaper down
      >for an indefinite period because of the "libellous nature" of two
      >articles in the first issue headlined, "President's repeated and
      >extended absences" and "Gabon pays salaries of Central African
      >Republic's civil servants." The CNC also claimed that the neither
      >the newspaper nor its staff were properly registered.
      >
      >

      _________________________________________________________________
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    • Jeremy Rich
      It would be sad if there were no more PCV s in Gabon. Typical that no one would mention it to newcomers, though... C Yombi wrote:Here is
      Message 2 of 4 , May 18, 2004
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        It would be sad if there were no more PCV's in Gabon. Typical that no one would mention it to newcomers, though...

        C Yombi <c_yombi@...> wrote:Here is an interesting side note - the recently "invited" new stage of PC
        volunteers has been "uninvited" and offered new assignments in other
        countries. The reasons being sited were financial and security concerns.

        One potential new Gabon PCV who was reassigned put it this way, "the reason
        that they gave for the Gabon partial shut-down is that they said that many
        of the programs were not up to snuff there and the cost (since Gabon is so
        expensive) to bring them "up to code" was going to be prohibitively
        expensive. It's funny that they didn't mention the programs' troubles and
        problems when they wanted to send me there. Now all of a sudden, they talk
        about all these issues, but before it was "no problem."




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      • bobutne
        Possible explanation for the reassignment of new US Peace Corps Volunteers to Gabon is that Omar Bongo is playing up to the Chinese. President-for-Life Omar
        Message 3 of 4 , May 18, 2004
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          Possible explanation for the reassignment of new US Peace Corps
          Volunteers to Gabon is that Omar Bongo is playing up to the Chinese.
          President-for-Life Omar Bongo knows he can sell as much oil as he
          wants to China and with much less financial transparency. The plot
          thickens.....


          --- In gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com, "C Yombi" <c_yombi@h...>
          wrote:
          > Here is an interesting side note - the recently "invited" new stage
          of PC
          > volunteers has been "uninvited" and offered new assignments in
          other
          > countries. The reasons being sited were financial and security
          concerns.
          >
          > One potential new Gabon PCV who was reassigned put it this
          way, "the reason
          > that they gave for the Gabon partial shut-down is that they said
          that many
          > of the programs were not up to snuff there and the cost (since
          Gabon is so
          > expensive) to bring them "up to code" was going to be prohibitively
          > expensive. It's funny that they didn't mention the programs'
          troubles and
          > problems when they wanted to send me there. Now all of a sudden,
          they talk
          > about all these issues, but before it was "no problem."
          >
          > Interesting for a country that some say is doing so well and
          prospering.
          >
          >
          >
        • Roxanne Marie Schuller
          I was an invitee, to leave June 23rd, I just received my phone call last Friday saying that there would be no trianing group for my group. We are all being
          Message 4 of 4 , May 18, 2004
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            I was an invitee, to leave June 23rd, I just received my phone call last Friday saying that there 'would be no trianing group' for my group. We are all being reassigned.
            R

            Jeremy Rich <roiadende@...> wrote:
            It would be sad if there were no more PCV's in Gabon. Typical that no one would mention it to newcomers, though...

            C Yombi <c_yombi@...> wrote:Here is an interesting side note - the recently "invited" new stage of PC
            volunteers has been "uninvited" and offered new assignments in other
            countries. The reasons being sited were financial and security concerns.

            One potential new Gabon PCV who was reassigned put it this way, "the reason
            that they gave for the Gabon partial shut-down is that they said that many
            of the programs were not up to snuff there and the cost (since Gabon is so
            expensive) to bring them "up to code" was going to be prohibitively
            expensive. It's funny that they didn't mention the programs' troubles and
            problems when they wanted to send me there. Now all of a sudden, they talk
            about all these issues, but before it was "no problem."




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