July 10, 2006
Original Protest Letter: December 23, 2003
Gabon’s government-controlled media regulatory body, the National Council on Communications (CNC), ruled on June 22 to re-authorize the private bimonthly L’Autre Journal to publish, according to the state-owned daily L’Union. The decision came two and a half years after the paper was banned in December 2003 for articles that might “disturb public order.”
No official reason was given for the decision to re-authorize the paper, a local journalist told CPJ. Gabonese authorities had closed L’Autre Journal soon after it was launched amid a broad crackdown on the media in 2003. Police first seized the entire print run of the paper’s second issue at Libreville airport on December 12; the CNC issued a formal ban a week later.
On December 15, 2003, the paper’s editor, Marco Boukoukou Boussaga, died of an apparent internal hemorrhage. The causes of his death were unclear, and an investigation was never carried out despite appeals from his colleagues and several international organizations including CPJ. The December 30 issue of L’Union carried a statement from the Gabonese cabinet denouncing CPJ’s letter and accusing CPJ of “hidden political goals.” The death and the newspaper’s suspension were unrelated, the statement said.