Gabon seeks 8-year jail for anti-government activist’s ‘hostile’ videos

Africa politics

People demonstrate against the confirmation by Gabon's constitutional court of President Ali Bongo's victory in the presidential election, on September 24, 2016 in Marseille. - The court, while partially changing the results of the close August 27 vote, said Bongo maintained a lead over his former ally-turned-opponent Jean Ping. With the country in political limbo for nearly a month, concern had been growing that a ruling in favour of Bongo could spark a fresh wave of opposition protests. (Photo by ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT / AFP)

Gabon’s chief prosecutor on Monday called for an anti-government activist to be jailed for eight years for “inciting violence” and “insulting the head of state”, his lawyer told reporters. 

Herve Mombo Kinga was arrested on August 31, 2017 over a number of video clips he showed in a public place that were deemed hostile to President Ali Bongo and his government, with Monday’s hearing marking his first appearance in court, his lawyer Anges Kevin Nzigou said.

Kinga was charged with spreading “propaganda aimed at disturbing the public order” and “insulting the president” for publicly showing “videos and messages encouraging an uprising against the State, (and spreading) hatred and disunity,” the prosecution said at the time. 

Nzigou said a verdict would be handed down in the case on February 4, but expressed confidence his client would be exonerated. 

“It would be unrealistic to think he would remain in prison after February 4 because the court understood that this was an opinion-related offence and that his detention has gone too far,” the lawyer said. 

Mombo Kinga is a known supporter of Gabonese opposition leader Jean Ping, who lost the August 2016 presidential election to Bongo by a very slim margin, in a result he denounced as fraudulent. 

The results sparked a wave of violent protest in which dozens died. 

On the day of Mombo Kinga’s arrest, around 15 opposition activists were detained on the sidelines of a protest to mark exactly a year since Bongo’s disputed re-election. 


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