Tension high in Gabon, opposition says TV station torched

Regulation & Policy

Tension reigned Thursday in oil-rich Gabon where the main opposition said its television station was torched after violent clashes between its supporters and police in the capital Libreville.

But the government said police gave a "measured reaction" to Wednesday's unauthorised protest in support of main opposition leader Andre Mba Obame and nobody was killed despite opposition claims of three deaths.

The protest sparked the worst violence since the disputed 2009 election of Ali Bongo Ondimba, who succeeded his father Omar as president following his death earlier that year after 42 years in power. Mba Obame claims he won the election.

His television station TV+ stopped broadcasting after armed and masked men overpowered guards overnight Wednesday and used a petrol bomb to set fire to the transmitter in the capital, its director Frank Nguema told AFP.

Nguema also said the station suffered a power cut for most of the day on Wednesday, which prevented the broadcast of reports on the opposition demonstration.

"This umpteenth act of sabotage and the government's relentless campaign against TV+ underscores the absence of freedom of expression and the press in Gabon," Nguema said.

The government released a statement overnight "praising the measured reaction of the security forces against numerous provocations targeting them.... Until now, no loss of human life has been recorded."