DRC chokes communications as vote counting continues after tense elections

Africa

Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are clamping down on media and communications as vote counting continues following Sunday’s crucial presidential elections to see who will succeed President Joseph Kabila.

On Wednesday government officials withdrew the press accreditation of a French radio journalist Florence Morice from Radio France Internationale (RFI), the East African reported.

Morice was accused of “violating electoral law and the code of good conduct for foreign journalists covering the elections”.

Government spokesperson Lambert Mende, confirming that RFI’s broadcasts had been cut off in all of Congo’s cities, said that Kinshasa would not “let a radio station throw petrol on the flames at a time when we are waiting for the compilation of the provisional results”.

RFI which has a very large audience in the DRC, a French-speaking country of approximately 80 million people, has been following the elections closely. The radio station strongly protested the move saying its coverage had been totally unbiased.

The government cut internet access on Monday for an indefinite period just before it silenced RFI, internet operator Global said.

Additionally, the authorities cut mobile phone texting, mobile phone service Vodacom said.

The much anticipated elections were long overdue. Kabila had on several occasions refused to step down after ruling for 18 years despite having ended his term of office earlier in 2016 after his two-term constitutional limit was up.

He took the presidency after the former President Laurent-Désiré Kabila who was his father got assassinated in 2011.

As Kabila clung to power amid mass protests, thousands of lives were lost as DRC security forces brutally quashed his own people and the political opposition.

 

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