Gabon Political Orientation
Government Type: Presidential Republic (as of the latest update, under military control)
Former Leader: President Ali Bongo Ondimba (Detained)
Political Party: Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG)
Political Position: Center-Right
MBFC’s Country Freedom Rating: 39.06 – Limited Freedom
World Press Freedom Rank: Gabon 94/180
A Reporters Without Borders and Freedom House 2023 Report highlights a problematic situation for Gabon’s media freedom and political pluralism. The recent coup in Gabon has sparked concerns about the future of press freedom. As of the time of this report, the potential implications of the coup for media freedom in Gabon are unclear.
Gabon is a former French colony located on the west coast of Central Africa. Military officers in Gabon announced on August 30, 2023, that they had seized power, placing President Ali Bongo under house arrest. The coup came after Bongo was declared the winner of a third term in office. The coup is part of a larger trend of military takeovers in former French colonies in Africa, including Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali, Niger, and Chad. France was accused of exploiting these countries while facing challenges addressing citizens’ economic problems.
Media Ownership and Government Analysis
Gabon has been under the rule of the Bongo family since 1967. State-run outlets dominate the media landscape, and there is a lack of independent journalism.
The government owns and controls key media outlets, including Gabon Television and Radio Gabon. RSF states that over 60 print media outlets exist. Still, the most influential are the state-owned TV channels and the online media outlets controlled by the president’s allies.
The tradition of a free and independent press has yet to take hold, and journalists who do not toe the government line are often harassed or intimidated. The media regulator, the High Authority for Communication (HAC), lacks independence. For example, on August 23, 2019, the Haute Authorité de la Communication (HAC) suspended the media outlets Gabon Review, Gabon Media Time (GMT), Fraternité, and L’Aube due to their coverage of sensitive topics or for criticizing the government.
Most recently, on August 26, 2023, the Haute Authorité de la Communication (HAC) blocked internet access and suspended three French broadcasters, France 24, Radio France Internationale, and TV5 Monde, during the country’s presidential election. The government said the measures were necessary to prevent the spread of “calls for violence” and “false information.” This was a worrying development in the lead-up to the August 30, 2023 coup.
In conclusion, Press freedom in Gabon has been limited due to significant control exerted by the government over the media, both directly and indirectly. The recent coup adds another layer of complexity to Gabon’s political and media landscape and is part of a concerning trend in former French colonies in Africa.
Last Updated on September 1, 2023 by Media Bias Fact Check
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