Internet and phone services cut in DRC ahead of anti-government protests

Democratic Republic of Congo’s government on Saturday ordered telecommunications providers to cut internet and SMS services across the country ahead of planned anti-government demonstrations.

Grassroots Catholic activists have called for marches in major cities on Sunday to demand that President Joseph Kabila commit to not changing the constitution to stand for a third term and release political prisoners.

Kabila was required by the constitution to step down in December last year when his mandate expired but an election to replace him has been repeatedly delayed and is now scheduled for December 2018.

« It is for reasons of state security », telecommunications minister Emery Okundji told Reuters. « In response to violence that is being prepared… the government has the duty to take all measures to protect Congolese lives ».

Okundji wrote a letter to telecoms providers ordering them to suspend internet and SMS services by 6pm in the capital Kinshasa until further instruction, although some users still had access more than two hours later.

Congolese authorities have banned Sunday’s demonstrations, which have been backed by most opposition leaders, and warned that all gatherings of more than five people will be dispersed.

SINCE YOU’RE HERE…

… we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading the Guardian than ever but advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. And unlike many news organisations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as open as we can. So you can see why we need to ask for your help. The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe our perspective matters – because it might well be your perspective, too.

I’m a 19 year old student disillusioned by an unequal society with a government that has stopped even pretending to work in my generation’s interests. So for the strength of our democracy, for the voice of the young, for a credible independent check on the government, this donation was pretty good value for money. Jack H, UK

If everyone who reads our reporting, who likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure. For as little as £1, you can support the Guardian – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

 

Reuters in Goma, in theguardian, 30.12.17 © Congoindépendant 2003-2017