Libreville, Gabon: When President Ali Bongo celebrated Press Freedom Day on May 3, the vast majority of Gabon’s press boycotted the event and held their own meeting elsewhere in Libreville, the capital. Speaking before a handful of pro-government media, Bongo complained that the opposition press demand subsidies but spend their time insulting him, once again demonstrating a 50 year Bongo family tradition of confusing state finances with private assets. “The press is against me,” he lamented. Bongo’s statement underlined the extent to which Gabon’s media landscape is polarized as we head to presidential elections in August.
The EU must pressure foreign governments to punish parents who send their children on the perilous and illegal journey to Europe or face financial consequences. All too many parents in poverty stricken countries readily send their under-age children on the dangerous trek to Europe knowing that, if they make it, Europeans will care for them. These parents hope their children get papers and that they can join them in Europe later under Europe’s liberal family regroupment rules and that one day they get work and send money home. Europeans are alarmed that about 10,000 of these children are unaccounted for.
Pointe-Noire, Congo: The Prefect’s residence in Pointe-Noire is a modern palace with lots of bay windows in a spacious, well-kept park, shaded with palm trees and colored with flower-beds. Nobody lives there. The Prefect, like so many high-ranking civil-servants, managed to amass enough wealth to build himself his own private palace outside of town.
In the back left-side corner is a small walled-in compound which looks very much like the police station it once must have been, with its holding cells, but is now Radio-Congo’s Pointe-Noire station. It is a throwback to the early days of broadcasting.
Brazzaville, May 30, 2015. An estimated 100 thousand people in Congo-Brazzaville infected with the AIDS virus are at risk because they are not getting their medications, according to western diplomats and Congolese activists.
BRAZZAVILLE: Boris Iloy Ibara, the News Director of Télé Congo, the state run TV, has a spacious office in the heavily guarded and half empty five-story structure built by the Chinese and inaugurated just six years ago. Boris says if the opposition is absent from his programs, it is because they don’t have the money to pay for the slot. He admits his reporters will take anywhere from $100 to $2000 dollars from the politicians they cover to do the story. However, he denies he has orders to censor the opposition.
The United Nations denies it tried to cover up the sexual abuse of minors by French troops in the Central African Republic. The world body calls the allegations “highly offensive.” I can testify from my own personal experience in the Democratic Republic of Congo that the UN does hide the abuse of its blue helmets and others.
Banjul, May 5, 2012 – When Europeans went to Berlin with their scissors in 1884 to cut up the map of Africa, they played a sick joke which is still felt today. The British wanted the Palm oil from the Gambia River so they took that out of French West Africa and today the place is called a country: 60 kilometers wide at the Atlantic it snakes 338 kilometers up river where it is just a dozen kilometers wide. French diplomats like to refer to it as the finger in the ass of Senegal. The metaphor is à propos this year as the country obsesses over all things anal.