Gabon bans opposition party from state media for three months
Gabon authorities said Saturday they have banned an opposition party from state media for three months over statements about the health of President Omar Bongo, who has been in a Saudi hospital for a month.
Bongo, 59, was rushed to hospital in Riyadh on October 24 after falling ill at an economic forum. A source said on Friday he will be transferred next week to the Moroccan capital Rabat to convalesce.
Gabon's HAC communications authority said the Union Nationale party had failed to respond to two summons to explain a statement by the party in which it called an official bulletin about the president's health a "state lie".
The HAC said the party's statement was an "abuse of freedom of expression" and therefore "the Union Nationale is banned from public media for three months".
The party, however, asserts it is not compelled to explain its comment to the communications authority.
The HAC has in recent months suspended publication of a Gabon newspaper and banned some journalists who have been openly critical of the government.
The communications authority in August also suspended for three months the French channel France 2 for broadcasting a documentary on Bongo.
After the president was hospitalised, the presidency was silent for a time before admitting he was seriously ill but declaring that he was on the mend.
Lack of official news -- along with memories of the secrecy-shrouded death of Bongo's father and predecessor Omar Bongo in 2009 -- has sparked numerous rumours, including speculation he was incapacitated, perhaps by a stroke.……
Government News International
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