In­ter­net re­stored, so­cial media still blocked in Gabon

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

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.

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