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Gabon's Government Responds to Disputed Election by Banning Foreign Media and Shutting Down Internet

Published September 21, 2023
8 months ago

In a turn of events triggered by a contentious presidential election, Gabon's government has suspended operations of French media outlets RFI and France 24. This suspension, which commenced on the day election results were to be announced, has been met with "incomprehension" from the affected media outlets. Alongside these restrictions, the government also imposed an internet shutdown on Saturday evening and enforced a curfew, citing concerns of potential election-related violence.

In a prior statement, the opposition accused the election process of being manipulated, deeming it a "fraud orchestrated by Ali Bongo and his supporters". Later, Gabon's communication authority announced a "provisional ban on the broadcasting in Gabon of France 24, RFI and TV5 Monde", criticizing them for a perceived lack of objectivity and balance in their election coverage.

The parent company of RFI and France 24, France Medias Monde, voiced its shock and disapproval at the suspension, arguing that it unjustly deprives the Gabonese of two credible and independent information sources. Furthermore, advocacy group Reporters Without Borders decried the significant restrictions placed on foreign journalists during the election.

According to the shutdown tracker on Surfshark.com, Gabon has experienced a total of two other internet restrictions since 2015. Gabriele Racaityte-Krasauske, Surfshark’s spokesperson, cautioned that such recurring restrictions can greatly impede democratic election processes.

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