Presidential election in Congo: Internet cut by the authorities

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Access to the Internet and social networks had been cut for several hours on Sunday, presidential polling day in Congo where President Denis Sassou Nguesso is seeking a new five-year term, AFP journalists noted.

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The Internet network has been inaccessible since shortly after midnight (Saturday 23:00 GMT). It was still at the opening of the polling stations on Sunday at 7 a.m. local time, where 2.5 million moreover are called upon to elect their President of the Republic.

President Sassou Nguesso, 77, who has 36 years as head of state, faces six rivals

Unlike the 2016 presidential election, mobile networks remained in service.

On March 16, some fifty organizations, including Internet Without Borders, in an open letter invited President Sassou Nguesso to “keep the Internet open, accessible and secure throughout the period of the 2021 presidential election.”

Internet and social networks “provide a space for communication, public debate, research of information on electoral processes and candidates, to report and document events and results,” they insisted. “Internet shutdowns undermine human rights, disrupt emergency services and cripple economies.”

On Wednesday, between 55,000 and 60,000 members of the security forces voted in advance. This early vote is seen as a potential source of fraud by opponents of the incumbent president.

The episcopal conference, which expressed serious reservations about the transparency and credibility of this presidential election, was refused accreditation allowing it to send election observers to polling stations.