Libreville (AFP) Equatorial Guinea carried out a wave of arrests and torture after an attempted coup last December, activists say. Several members of the opposition Citizens for Innovation (CI) party among 38 who were held at the main police station in the capital Malabo — which they dubbed “Guantanamo” — told AFP of alleged abuse during their detention from December 28 to January 3. “We were tortured for a week,” said party activist Ernesto Obama Ondo, 42. “I received 150 lashes every day,” he said in Malabo. “My buttocks wereRead More
Libreville (AFP) Cameroon’s long-ruling President Paul Biya on Thursday convoked a rare cabinet meeting and vowed to push ahead with a military crackdown on English-speaking separatists in the francophone country. The west African country has had a tortuous colonial history that saw it pass from German rule to French and British hands and the anglophone minority complain of being marginalised by the French-speaking elite. “The efforts (of the security forces) must be continued, especially to ensure a return of normal economic and social activity,” Biya told the first cabinet meetingRead More
Libreville (AFP) Gabon is to withdraw its forces from the UN peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic, a force known by its initials of MINUSCA. The cabinet on Thursday endorsed a request by the defence ministry to pull out the country’s troops in MINUSCA, “given the progressive return to peace and stability” there, according to a report of the meeting issued Friday. Gabon contributes 444 troops to the 12,500 in MINUSCA, one of the UN’s biggest peacekeeping missions. The CAR has been struggling to return to stability since theRead More
Libreville (AFP) “Sir, we’re going to handcuff you,” a coast guard from Sao Tome tells a man accused of fishing illegally in the archipelago’s waters. But the “fisherman” is really a French navy seaman disguised in a T-shirt, cap and sunglasses — a member of an unusual multinational training exercise to combat crime in the Gulf of Guinea. Illegal fishing, piracy and hostage-taking haunt the vast bay lying off West Africa, whose coastline runs from Liberia in the west to Gabon in the south. According to the European Union, theRead More
Libreville (AFP) A cartoonist who was held in custody for more than five months in Equatorial Guinea was released on Wednesday, an NGO said. Ramon Esono Ebale, who works under the pseudonym “Ham and Cheese”, was arrested for works “that regularly criticise the government of Equatorial Guinea”, the African Union previously said. Confirming his release, director of the US-based rights group EG Justice, Tutu Alicante, said in a statement: “The release of Ramon is proof of the power of the collective work of hundreds of artists, concerned citizens and NGOs.”Read More
Libreville (AFP) Gabon on Tuesday accused Veolia of pollutingthe country as the government and the French company wage an increasingly bitter dispute in public over the cancellation of a contract for water and electricity distribution. “There is considerable environmental damage at almost all of the sites exploited by SEEG,” Communication Minister Alain-Claude Bilie By Nze told journalists, referring to the Gabonese firm which is 51-percent owned by Veolia. “Oils and fuel have been spilled on the ground, without any protection or precautions, in flagrant violation of environmental regulations,” he saidRead More
Libreville (AFP) Separatists in Cameroon’s restive English-speaking regions have faced a violent crackdown since declaring the creation of “Ambazonia”, a self-proclaimed republic independent from the majority French-speaking country. The violence has helped fuel support for a growing separatist movement, including armed groups, who in turn have carried out a string of attacks on police and the military. Dozens on both sides have died, and tens of thousands have fled into neighbouring Nigeria. The political drive for the separatist cause began in 2016 after police broke up demonstrations by English-speaking lawyersRead More
Libreville (AFP) The Cameroonian army on Friday denied its troops were responsible for alleged atrocities against separatists in English-speaking regions after unverified footage apparently involving soldiers was posted online. “These accusations of atrocities are dreamt up. We are victims of disinformation and fake news,” army spokesman Colonel Didier Badjeck told AFP, just days after the appearance of the latest of a string of grisly video clips. None of the clips could be independently verified by AFP, with Badjeck insisting the army had “a culture of respect for human rights” andRead More
Libreville (AFP) Ever tried to put a GPS real-time tracking collar on a five-tonne animal? Well in Gabon conservationists have begun trying to use the devices on elephants; tracking and drugging the animals, before attaching the high-tech gadgets in a bid to stop poachers and ivory trafficking. But it is not a simple task. Each operation needs around five to seven men, including a vet, scouts and trackers, to guide the group through dense jungle and locate the often shy animals. “They have to fit one or two GPS collarsRead More
Libreville (AFP) Misuse of a powerful painkiller has spread like wildfire among schools in the west African state of Gabon, where teachers blame it for violent changes in mood among normally placid and motivated teenagers. Known as “kobolo” by local youths, the drug comprises high doses of anti-inflammatory medicine, usually washed down with soda or alcohol. In the United States, abuse of such opioid drugs, say experts, has abetted a crisis of addiction and misery. “It’s easier to ask who in our state schools is not taking kobolo,” said aRead More