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Gabon31 August 2005

Nku’u Le Messager reappears after being banned for 20 days

A new issue of the fortnightly Nku’u Le Messager was published for the first time today since it was banned by the National Council for Communication (CNC) on 11 August.

The CNC has not yet officially announced that Nku’u Le Messager is authorised to resume publishing, but the newspaper changed its editorial staff in compliance with the condition previously set by the CNC for lifting the ban.

Patrice Bayeba N’Gogo has taken over as managing editor replacing Norbert Ngoua Mezui, who now holds the position of "founder-editor."

16. 08. 05 Thirteen newspapers stop publishing in solidarity with fortnightly closed by government

Reporters Without Borders voiced support today for the decision by 13 Gabonese newspapers and magazines to stop publishing until the National Council for Communication (CNC) lifts its order suspending the licence of the fortnightly Nku’u Le Messager.

The solidarity protest was announced on 12 August by the Association of Free Print Media Professionals (Appel), which is headed by Nku’u Le Messager editor Norbert Ngoua Mezui. Appel called for dialogue to defuse the tension between the press and the CNC.

The 13 publications taking part in the protest are Lowé, La Démocratie, L’Espoir, Le Temps, Nganga, Le Crocodile, Le Scribouillard, La Nation, Tamgo, Gabaon, Femme d’aujourd’hui, Elite Afrique Magazine and Le Journal.

12. 08. 05 "Counterproductive" closure by government of fortnightly Nku’u Le Messager

Reporters Without Borders wrote today to Pierre-Marie Dong, the president of Gabon’s National Council for Communication (CNC), urging him to rescind his 9 August decision to close down the fortnightly Nku’u Le Messager until the newspaper gets new editors.

"We think the decision to close Nku’u Le Messager is counterproductive in the current climate of tension between the newspaper and the CNC," the press freedom organisation said. "Far from resolving the conflict and defusing tension, it will just poison relations between the council and the independent press and undermine the required confidence in this self-regulatory body."

Calling on the CNC to give priority to "dialogue and compromise," Reporters Without Borders added that, "this unilateral sanction does not give the newspaper any chance to defend itself in an open debate."

The closure was prompted by an 8 August column by editor Norbert Ngoua Mezui which called the members of the CNC "bad film actors" and "journalists with little talent." It also described them as trying to "to fill their idle days and above all to justify their fat fees."

Agence France-Presse quoted Mezui as saying his column was in response to two CNC releases, the first of which "claimed that there was a mentor behind the newspaper, and the second was a classification of local news media according to their editorial line," assigning Nku’u Le Messager to the category of "partisan" publications.

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