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Africa

Gabon suspends Cameroon television station after it wrongly reported president’s death

  • Gabonese leader Ali Bongo Ondimba is alive and has gone to Saudi Arabia for treatment for ‘exhaustion’, his government says
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 October, 2018, 10:52pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 November, 2018, 6:22am

A private Cameroonian television station has been barred from broadcasting for six months in neighbouring Gabon after erroneously reporting the death of Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba, who is in hospital in Saudi Arabia suffering from exhaustion, Libreville authorities said.

Vision 4, thought to be close to the Cameroonian government, reported on Saturday that the Gabonese president had died.

Bongo, 59, fell ill last Wednesday during a visit to Riyadh to attend an economic forum in the Saudi capital, where he is still in hospital.

His spokesman Ike Ngouoni said on Sunday that doctors there had told the president he had “severe fatigue” and ordered bed rest.

Ngouoni called for “vigilance” against “fake news” after Vision 4’s report.

Gabon’s broadcasting authority HAC, which met on Tuesday, said in a statement that the “incorrect and false” report had “undermined national unity, social cohesion and public order”.

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Bongo took over as leader of the oil-rich equatorial African nation in 2009 after the death of his father Omar Bongo, who had ruled Gabon since 1967.

Ali Bongo was re-elected in 2016 by just a few thousand votes in a controversial presidential election.