Congo orders telecoms closure during presidential election

Government in Congo Republic orders major telecommunication providers to shutdown service during presidential election

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Congolese incumbent President Denis Sassou Nguesso holds a campaign rally ahead of Sunday's presidential election in Brazzaville.

Congo Republic's government on Saturday directed its largest telecommunication companies to halt all communication during the presidential election scheduled to take place on Sunday and Monday, a government said.

The decision is highly unusual in the context of an election in Africa and in Congo, where there are few landlines - with many relying on mobile phones for communication. However, a government source claimed that it was taken for security reasons.

"The Minister of the Interior indeed signed and sent a letter to ... MTN Congo and Airtel Congo to tell them that the state wants them to cut off communication on March 20 and 21 for reasons of security and public tranquillity," the source told Reuters.

Incumbent President, Denis Sassou Nguesso, is expected to emerge as winner as he planned to extend his long rule. On Friday he urged voters to give him a first round victory.

Eight opponents are contesting against Sassou Nguesso, including a former security adviser to the president retired General Jean-Marie Mokoko. 

Sassou Nguesso, who has led Congo for 32 of the last 37 years, changed the constitution through referendum last October to remove term and age limits that would have blocked him from seeking re-election.

TRTWorld, Reuters