DRC govt justifies internet shutdown, warns foreign journalists

Friday, January 4 will be the fourth straight day of internet outage after Congolese voted on December 30, 2018 in general elections.

The government has defended its position to shutdown the internet saying it was in the interest of peace and security. There is hardly any concrete news of results because of the shutdown which has also affected SMS service.

The latest defense was made by Information Minister Lambert Mende. “It’s our place to call on all professionals who work in communication – both nationals and foreigners – to resist the temptation to broadcast results, due to our concern that this could sensationalise and intentionally skew results,” he said.

Adding: “The government has done what it is meant to do in such circumstances. That is, to make sure that laws apply to everyone, from the least to the most powerful.”

He also had tough words for foreign journalists covering the electoral process. So far authorities have blocked broadcast signal of French channel RFI across the territory. It is arguably the most reliable news platform in the DRC and even in Republic of Congo.

“It is important to note, however, and this is my conclusion, that there will never be any question of allowing anyone to destroy the efforts we have all made to bring the country back into an artificial conflict situation because of the deliberate and malicious manipulation of the electoral process data.”

Information and human rights groups have repeatedly slammed the action and called for the lifting of the measure. Western governments have also made a similar request which Mende says Kinshasa could consider.

Preliminary results from the polls were expected on Sunday, January 6 but the elections body, CENI, said on Wednesday that due to slow transmission of figures, it could extend beyond that date. It, however, did not give a new date.

“5,518 polling centers have already been collated. So we’re at 20% of what needs to be done. The question is, will we announce some of the provisional results on Sunday? We are working hard, the Céni is working hard to ensure that the results are tallied,” elections boss Corneille Nangaa said on Wednesday. – africanews.com

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