The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) calls for a thorough, independent, and immediate investigation into the death of Marco Boukoukou Boussaga, editor-in-chief of the privately owned bimonthly newspaper L'Autre journal, based in the capital, Libreville.
According to local sources, Boussaga died in Libreville on the morning of December 15. His family members had brought him to a hospital when they found him spitting up blood after he spent the evening with friends in a suburb of the capital. The reasons for his death are unclear, but Boussaga had no prior medical problems, sources said.
Boussaga's death is particularly troubling because it came only days after police seized the entire print run of L'Autre journal's second issue at the Libreville airport on December 12. The issue was printed in neighboring Cameroon because Multipress, the state-run printing company that had printed the first edition, refused to print the second, according to local journalists.
Today, journalists at the newspaper received a letter from the National Council on Communications (CNC), dated December 19, ordering that the paper be suspended indefinitely. The letter accused the newspaper of publishing articles that might "disturb public order." Local journalists told CPJ that the issue contained an editorial criticizing the government's repression of the private press in Gabon, as well as an article accusing the government of mismanaging revenues from the country's oil industry.
The first issue of the paper had featured a front-page article alleging that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has delayed reaching an agreement with Gabonese authorities because of past mismanagement of IMF funds. The second issue also had a front-page article commenting on Gabon's negotiations with the IMF.
As an independent organization of journalists dedicated to defending our colleagues worldwide, CPJ calls on Your Excellency to ensure that a thorough, independent investigation into Boussaga's death is conducted in a timely manner, including an autopsy. We ask that you make public all findings from the investigation. We also urge you to lift the suspension of L'Autre journal immediately and unconditionally. CPJ continues to monitor these cases.
We thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.
Ann K. Cooper