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Gabon Halts Opposition TV Channel on President Claim

Gabon’s communications regulator suspended broadcasting by TV+, the television station owned by opposition leader Andre Mba Obame who declared himself president two days ago.

“The National Communication Council has decided to suspend the broadcasting license of TV+ for three months,” Godel Inanga, an adviser to the body, said in a statement read on state television late yesterday in the capital, Libreville. The suspension is effective from Jan. 26, he said.

Obame, the leader of the National Union party and a former interior minister, swore himself in live on TV+, a Libreville-based broadcaster, on Jan. 25. He also named a 19-member Cabinet, saying he was the winner of a presidential election held in August 2009.

Obame yesterday sought refuge in the United Nations Development Programme’s offices in Libreville, Sergeant Andre Nzamba, a police guard, said in an interview at the UNDP office. Police today drove away about 200 supporters from the UNDP building, Nzamba said.

Gabon, with a population of 1.5 million people, is sub-Saharan Africa’s fifth-biggest oil producer and the world’s fourth-largest producer of manganese, which is used to strengthen steel, according to the Web site of the U.S. Geological Survey.

Gabon’s Constitutional Court in October 2009 declared Ali Bongo Ondimba the winner of an Aug. 30 vote after dismissing opposition party challenges to the results. Pierre Mamboundou, leader of the Union of Gabonese People, garnered 25.64 percent of the ballots cast and Obame got 25.33 percent, the court said. Bongo, the son of Omar Bongo Ondimba, who ruled the country for 41 years before his death in June 2009, obtained 41.79 percent and was sworn in as president on Oct. 16, 2009.

The ruling Gabonese Democratic Party said Obame’s swearing in was “absurd and backward.” His party has been dissolved by the government, Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported today, without citing anyone.

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