Au­thor­i­ties de­fend What­sApp, Viber ban on elec­tion day

Jamaica Gleaner - - INTERNATIONAL NEWS -

PODGORICA (AP): MON­TENE­GRIN AU­THOR­I­TIES yes­ter­day de­fended a de­ci­sion to block pop­u­lar mes­sag­ing ser­vices What­sApp and Viber dur­ing the coun­try’s par­lia­men­tary elec­tion, say­ing it was prompted by cit­i­zens’ com­plaints and in line with EU reg­u­la­tions.

The state Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Agency said in a state­ment that its move on Sun­day was de­signed to pre­vent the abuse of the ser­vices on elec­tion day. The agency said a num­ber of users – it did not spec­ify how many – com­plained of re­ceiv­ing un­wanted elec­tion pro­pa­ganda.

“The users of mo­bile com­mu­ni­ca­tions in Montenegro asked for pro­tec­tion,” the agency said. “The ban of Viber and What­sApp ap­pli­ca­tion turned out to be the only op­tion to pre­vent the dis­tri­bu­tion of un­wanted com­mu­ni­ca­tion.”

The ban has drawn al­le­ga­tions of in­ter­fer­ence from op­po­si­tion politi­cians in Montenegro and con­cern from Euro­pean elec­tion watch­ers in the small Balkan coun­try which is seek­ing EU and NATO mem­ber­ship.

The of­fi­cial elec­tion re­sults on Wed­nes­day con­firmed that the long-rul­ing pro-West­ern party of Prime Min­is­ter Milo Djukanovic won most votes dur­ing the bal­lot­ing, but must seek an al­liance to form the next gov­ern­ment.

The State Elec­tion Com­mis­sion said that Djukanovic’s Demo­cratic Party of So­cial­ists, which has ruled Montenegro for more than a quar­ter-cen­tury, won 36 seats in the 81-mem­ber Par­lia­ment. It is fol­lowed by the op­po­si­tion Demo­cratic Front with 18 seats, and the Key Coali­tion with nine seats, while the rest is taken up by sev­eral smaller par­ties and groups.

Op­po­si­tion par­ties have com­plained that Sun­day’s bal­lot­ing was marred with ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties, in­clud­ing the block­ing of What­sApp and Viber. US spe­cial­ists in in­fec­tions dis­eases (top left) and Cuban spe­cial­ists (right) at­tend a meet­ing at the Pe­dro Kouri Trop­i­cal Medicine In­sti­tute in Ha­vana, Cuba, yes­ter­day. The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion sent some of the United States’ top in­fec­tious­dis­ease spe­cial­ists to Cuba to open a new phase in med­i­cal co­op­er­a­tion af­ter more than a half-cen­tury of iso­la­tion.

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