The Government of Democratic Republic of Congo has asked telecommunication companies to block social media networks from Monday, apparently to stop protests against plans by President Joseph Kabila to stay in power beyond the end of his mandate.
Service providers including Vodacom, Orange and Airtel were silent on the mandate whether they would comply or not. But one industry executive said all companies had signed an agreement to respect national security injunctions.
The country’s top court has extended Kabila’s tenure beyond the end of his two-term limit in the wake of a deal between the government and some opposition leaders to delay a vote in November to choose a successor until April 2018.
The government blocked social media networks and the Internet during protests in January 2015, justifying the measure as necessary to prevent rumors that could fuel violence. Human rights groups criticized the decision.
Kabila took power in 2001 and a campaign by the opposition to force him to step down has led to years of sporadic demonstrations and arrests. More than 50 died in protests in September and a similar number died in January 2015.
The request to block social media was made in a letter by the Regulatory Authority of the Post and Telecommunications of Congo (ARPTC). Social media listed in letter are Facebook, Twitter, Skype, YouTube and LinkedIn as services that should be blocked temporarily.