There is great unease in the DR Congo as President Kabila’s mandate expires at midnight on Sunday. It will mark the end of the President’s last constitutional term.
One little fact has, however, heightened tensions in the nation; no elections have been organised. Opposition parties are accusing President Kabila of attempting to hold on to power, an accusation that the President has steadily denied.
The opposition, who remain unmoved by President Kabila’s denials, has threatened nationwide protests from Monday until Kabila quits office. Rallies and protests are, however, on hold as the Roman Catholic Church tries a last-ditch effort to meditate and bring about a satisfactory transition on the road to the elections.
Meanwhile, authorities in the DRC have ordered the blocking of social networking websites including Facebook and Twitter, as well as WhatsApp, prior to President Kabila’s term expiration on Sunday.
The order from the government was sent to three internet providers and seen by AFP news agency. It is seen as a bid to put a wrench in any plans for public protests which are increasingly organised via social media platforms.
On the order was a non-exhaustive list of platforms subject to the block. It required the “temporary blocking of sharing of images, video and voice [data] over the network” from 11:59 pm local time (2259GMT) on Sunday. The order added;
“In cases where partial blocking is not possible, you are required to block access to the relevant social networks entirely.”
One of the internet providers who received the order said that they would comply as it was part of their legal obligations. An executive at another affected ISP said disregarding the order would result in offending providers, having their licences terminated.
Anyone who seeks to organize protests in the DRC will have a harder time doing it but a simple social media block has hardly held any opposition group back.