RSF deplores Gabon’s refusal to let foreign reporters cover elections
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the Gabonese government’s refusal to issue any press accreditation to foreign reporters who wanted to cover the general elections on 26 August. The refusal is absurd and a violation of journalistic pluralism, RSF says.
Update on 26/08/23 : Gabonese authorities decided to cut the internet until further notice, while the media regulatory body announced a temporary ban of France 24, RFI and TV5Monde broadcasters. RSF denounced these decisions.
All of the reporters for foreign media who wanted to travel to Gabon to cover these election have been turned away. The authorities have not agreed to any of the accreditation requests that they have received from foreign journalists in the past three weeks. They have told international media they are unable to accredit journalists coming to Gabon for these elections.
A journalist who had been sent especially by the French news magazine Jeune Afrique was denied entry on the evening of 21 August. Having received no response to her request for press accreditation, she decided to fly to Gabon anyway. But she was refused entry on arrival and was put on a flight back to Paris the next morning.
Cameroon Tribune reporter Sinclair Mezin was also turned back on landing at the airport in Libreville, the capital. He told Cameroun Actuel that, before setting off for Gabon, the authorities had told him he would be able to get his accreditation after arriving. But then they turned him back on arrival on the grounds that he did not have accreditation.
The journalists who had been planning to go to Gabon to cover the elections for the French public broadcaster Radio France internationale and for the newspaper Le Monde requested accreditation well in advance but received no response from the authorities, so they did not go.
It is totally anachronistic to deprive foreign media of the possibility of covering such an important moment in a country’s democratic life, when the need for diverse reporting is crucial for the population. We condemn this unacceptable decision to close off the country and call on the Gabonese authorities to end it without delay.
RSF left messages for Prime Minister Alain-Claude Bilie-By-Nze and the government spokesman, but they did not get back.