Sophia Fredericks, Social Engagement Intern, National Headquarters Washington, D.C.
Gabon: On August 31st, Ali Ondimba Bongo of Gabon was reelected as President of Gabon winning 49.8% of the vote. His running opponent Ping believed this to be rigged claiming the court manipulated the votes and demanded a recount. Protests broke out after the reelection in the capital of Gabon, Libreville, where the reelection itself took place. The military was called to take measures to control the crowds of protesters, some of whom were shouting to set the National Assembly building ablaze.
Bongo succeeded his father Omar who ruled for 41 years. There was controversy amidst his presidency claiming Omar used the nation’s oil and mineral resources to benefit himself and his family while the population suffered. Many people of Gabon hold the belief that Bongo and his father are no different from one another.
As the protests regarding the reelection of the incumbent President continue, lives have been lost, people have been injured and buildings and businesses are now in ruins. The Gabonese Red Cross is preparing to deal with the protests by providing aid in the aftermath of violence. The IFRC provided an additional 227,000 Swiss francs from the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund allowing the Gabonese Red Cross to have the resources to be able to assist in the situation.
UNESCO: A resolution created by UNESCO is now making September 28th known as the International Day for Access to Information (IDUAI). This day is in correlation with the Sustainable Development Goals to ensure fundamental freedoms and access to information. IDUAI has the goal of raising awareness of the right of all people all over the world to have access to information.
The idea started with a group of African civil society who found that out of 85 information laws in the world there were only five in Africa, with the existing laws facing challenges to implementation. It was then planned to lobby UNESCO for the implementation of the right to information laws in Africa. A PanAfrican conference was held where a draft declaration was adopted. After the African Platform to Access to Information (APAI) convinced the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to implement the ACHRP resolution, it was requested by the African Union to make September 28th IDUAI.
Goal 16 Target 10 of The Sustainable Development Goal emphasizes the necessity of the implementation of the right to information laws by member states. However only 17 African Union members states have implemented the right to information laws. It is in hopes that IDUAI will raise awareness by inviting member states, UN organizations, NGO’s and individuals to celebrate the day.