From now on, foreign journalists wishing to enter Gabon will have, first, to get a written and signed authorisation from the minister of communication before proceeding to any Gabonese embassy to apply for a visa.
Nobody knows how long will take the minister to issue the authorisation and what channels to use to get it.
The decision, described as ‘unfortunate’ and ‘dictatorial’ by local commentators, was communicated mid-week to the media and foreign embassies accredited in Gabon by Mireille-Sarah Nzenze.
Nzenze is the secretary general at the ministry of communication, foreign affairs, Francophonie and Gabonese diaspora.
The reason behind the visa policy change has not been revealed, but critics suspect that the government aims to ‘punish’ some sections of foreign media, especially from France, for alledgely siding with the opposition during the disputed presidential elections.
In a change of tune demonstrating the end of support by France to President Ali Bongo, France’s ruling party, le Parti Socialiste, and the European Union have been fiercely criticising the ‘not-so-credible’ elections that brought Bongo to power.
Affaire à suivre.
Photo: Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba.