Senegal: CPJ wants communications blackout lifted in Congo

Dakar, Senegal (PANA) - The government of the Republic of Congo should immediately lift the total communications blackout it imposed before the 20 March presidential elections, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has said.

In a statement, made available to PANA in Dakar, Senegal, on Wednesday, CPJ disclosed that the Congolese Interior Minister, Raymond Mboulou, on 19 March ordered telecommunications companies to cut all mobile phone, text message, and internet services for at least 48 hours in order to prevent "illegal" reporting of election results.

The press freedom watchdog revealed that the blackout remained in effect till Tuesday.

"Plunging a country into a communications dark age on unfounded fears is reckless," remarked CPJ Deputy Executive Director, Robert Mahoney.

"Democracy does not work without a free press. We call on the government to restore all communications immediately and ensure that journalists can do their job. Failure to do so undermines confidence in the entire election process."

CPJ said its calls to the president of the High Council of Freedom of Communication went unanswered and The Embassy of the Republic of Congo in Washington did not respond to its requests for comment by telephone or email.

Meanwhile, having spent 32 years in power, President Denis Sassou Nguesso is one of the longest-serving leaders in Africa. He is widely expected to be announced the winner of the most recent election.

Tensions across the country have been running high since October, when a referendum was held on a series of changes to the constitution, allowing Sassou to run again.
-0- PANA MLJ/VAO 23March2016

23 march 2016 13:48:00

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