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Tanker missing off the coast of Gabon

A tanker with 17 Georgian sailors on board has been missing off the coast of Gabon for more than a week, the ship's managers and government officials say.

The Pantelena, which can be used as an oil or chemical tanker, was last heard from on August 14.

The AFP news agency quotes a Gabon military source as saying that the ship's locator beacon was switched off on that day.

It is unclear what may have happened to the vessel, but the waters off the coast of Gabon, and the Gulf of Guinea in general, have seen an increase in pirate attacks, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

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Gabon court orders ministers to resign

Members of the Gabon constitutional court sit on June 9, 2009, in Libreville.
Gabon's constitutional court, pictured in 2009, has criticised the delay over elections

Gabon's constitutional court has called on the prime minister to resign and dissolve the lower house of parliament because they failed to meet an election deadline.

According to the court, the government should have organised twice-delayed legislative elections by 30 April at the latest.

"It is clear that the government has not been able to fulfill the tasks assigned to it," AFP news agency quotes the court's head Madeleine Mborantsuo as saying in a statement on Monday.

"The decisions of the constitutional court are not to be commented on. They are to be applied," Prime Minister Franck Emmanuel Issoze-Ngondet is quoted as saying on national television after the ruling.

The court announced that President Ali Bongo Ondimba would nominate a new team of ministers answerable directly to him.

The upper house of parliament, the Senate, will remain in place under the court's order and will carry out the powers of the lower house until new ministers until elections are held. No date for the polls has yet been set.

President Ali Bongo's re-election in 2016, in which he narrowly beat his former brother-in-law Jean Ping, led to opposition accusations of electoral fraud.

He can now run for an unlimited number of terms, after the constitution was amended in January to remove presidential terms limits. The opposition criticised that change as a "power grab".

Chronology of key events in the history of Gabon, from 1470 to the present

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How the British army is tackling elephant poaching
Soldiers are sharing tactics from Iraq and Afghanistan to help gamekeepers in Gabon tackle poaching.

Carnage in Gabon's elephant sanctuary

Researchers say 25,000 elephants have been slaughtered in Gabon over the past decade
Elephant poachers have killed 80 per cent of the forest herds in a remote conservation park in Gabon in the last decade. Gabon is thought to hold the largest remaining population of forest elephants. But the researchers say about 25,000 elephants have been slaughtered in Minkebe National Park, an area that had been considered a sanctuary. John Poulsen, from Duke University in the United States, led the research. 

(Pic: File photo of elephants eating in La Lope National Parc, central Gabon; Credit: AFP)