The internet shut down in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is now on its second day. The shut down began shortly after the controversial presidential elections, which were supposed to have taken place after the end of the president’s term in 2016.
The presidential election took place on Sunday but the results will not be announced until January 6. Both the opposition and ruling party have claimed victory in the election. Opposition candidates and officials have accused the government of starting the shut down to cover their win.
The election has been controversial since its delay by the electoral commission. Joseph Kabila’s term ended in 2016 and the constitution prevented him from running for another term. Mr. Kabila took power 17 years ago and won two elections in 2006 and 2011. His term came to an end two years ago but the electoral commission said it needed time to register voters. It also said the country lacked the money to hold the presidential election.
On Monday, there were reports that parts of the country had been left without internet. The news quickly sparked fears that there was a fraud taking place. The opposition has accused the government of trying to keep Mr. Kabila in power.
The shut down is not just for the internet service in the country. Barnabe Kikaya Bin Karubi, an adviser of Mr. Kabila, said the SMS and internet services were shut down in the country to preserve public order after fake results started surfacing on social media. The adviser spoke to Reuters and said that they would remain that way until the first results are announced on January 6.
The opposition and supporters are not convinced with the explanation from the government. They believe the shut down is being done to prevent people from challenging the results.
Signal Also Shut Down
Reports say the signal to Radio France Internationale is also down. Those reports add that the government has withdrawn the accreditation of the news agency’s main correspondent in the country. The decision was said to be made after unofficial results were aired.
A spokesperson for the opposition candidates said that the shut down was a plan to hide the truth of the ballot box. Several countries have already called for the country to restore the services. Others have asked the country to allow election monitors.
The election was previously scheduled for the end of the 2016 term. It was delayed by the electoral commission over the lack of money and the registration of more voters. It was postponed by a week earlier this month.
Earlier this week, it was also announced that several cities would not participate in the vote. The announcement sparked protests in those cities. It was said at the time that it was over the Ebola outbreak and insecurity in those cities. The announcement left it without more than a million voters.
It is currently unclear how the cities will be counted since the first results are said to be coming in just a few days.