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DRC: Amnesty slams social media shutdown as Kabila mandate expires

DRC: Amnesty slams social media shutdown as Kabila mandate expires

Democratic Republic Of Congo

International rights group, Amnesty International, has slammed moves by authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to block access to some social media sites on (18 December) the eve of the expiration of the constitutional mandate of incumbent Joseph Kabila.

Sarah Jackson, Amnesty’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, said: “The social media shutdown on the eve of the end of President Kabila’s mandate is a blatant attempt to keep the Congolese people in the dark at a critical time, and must be rescinded immediately.

“Instead of emulating the repressive tactics of other governments in the region that have shut down social media at critical junctures during political contests, the DRC government should be upholding the right of the Congolese people to share information,” she added.

Instead of emulating the repressive tactics of other governments in the region that have shut down social media at critical junctures during political contests, the DRC government should be upholding the right of the Congolese people to share information.

Authorities in the DRC on Thursday issued a directive to telecommunication companies to block social media from Sunday to curb possible unrest as the mandate of President Kabila ends. An AFP source said that the shutdown should start from Sunday 1800 GMT.

The directive was contained in a letter issued by the Regulatory Authority of the Post and Telecommunications of Congo (ARPTC) which states that Facebook, Twitter, Skype, YouTube and LinkedIn should be blocked temporarily.

Opposition coalition led by Étienne Tshisekedi have vowed to hit the streets to unseat Kabila whose constitutionally-mandated second term comes to an end on 19 December.

Even though Kabila is required by constitutional term limits to step down when his second mandate ends, a constitutional court ruled that he can stay on until a successor is elected. Elections have been postponed to April 2018 after the electoral commission complained of inadequate resources to conduct the process.

The opposition accuse Kabila of manipulating the system to cling on to power, while a faction of the opposition has agreed and through a national dialogue, got one of its members appointed Prime Minister.

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