931008 Daily Press Briefing  Return to: Index of 1993 Daily Briefings || Electronic Research Collections Index || ERC Homepage

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Taken Question of October 8, 1993

Gabon:  Elections

Q.  Does the United States have any comment on the Gabonese GovernmentŐs 
banning of opposition newspapers?

A.  -- The United States has consistently urged the Government of Gabon 
(GOG) to respect media freedom, even when the views expressed in 
opposition newspapers and broadcasts harshly criticize it.

     -- As soon as the GOG issued its September 9, 1993 decree invoking 
a 1960 press law that made it almost impossible for any independent 
newspaper (opposition or pro-government) to publish, we reaffirmed our 
belief that the decree was inconsistent with the guarantees contained in 
GabonŐs 1991 constitution.

     -- Reacting to domestic and international criticism, President 
Bongo subsequently submitted draft legislation to the National Assembly 
which would narrow considerably the grounds on which the GOG can act 
against the independent media, requiring it to go through the judicial 
process.  The National Assembly is expected to pass this bill shortly.

     -- As the December 5 presidential election approaches, it is more 
important than ever for the GOG to respect freedom of the press.