Internet restored, social media still blocked in Gabon
LIBREVILLE — The internet has been restored in Gabon after being cut off for five days, but social media still remains blocked, following the announcement last week of President Ali Bongo as the winner of the presidential elections, BBC reports.
The internet and social media platforms were blocked after the re-election of Bongo in a close fought presidential election that saw Bongo defeat his main opposition candidate, Jean Ping by a mere 5 000 votes.
There has been no official explanation by the government why the internet was cut off, with many TV stations choosing to broadcast anything but news on the protests happening across the country.
BBC Africa reported that there was an increasing tendency by African governments to block social media during elections, with research by the Portland Communications saying that African tweeters were more political than in other continents.
Governments themselves do not have the technical capacity to block sites, they go about this by issuing an order to mobile phone operators who do have the capability.
Due to the vast majority of Africans using mobile devices to access the internet, the blocking of mobile network sites effectively blocks the internet.
The opposition in Gabon claimed that the elections were rigged, with the government manipulating the poll results.
Many disgruntled opposition supporters took to the streets soon after the announcement of the results to protest against what they felt was an unfair elections.
News24 reported that the media crackdown in Gabon left people on Sunday searching for loved ones aided mainly by rumour and hope, following days of violence since the announcement that President Bongo had been re-elected.
The post-election violence has so far claimed seven lives throughout the country, six civilians, mainly in the capital Libreville, and a police officer in the main northern town of Oyem.