Internet restored in DR Congo after deadly protests

Internet restored in DR Congo after deadly protests

KINSHASA – Agence France-Presse
Internet restored in DR Congo after deadly protests

Internet was restored in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Jan. 2 after the government cut services for three days on the eve of protests against the president, AFP reporters said.

The Congolese minister for telecommunications Emery Okundji ordered mobile operators to cut internet and SMS services “for reasons of state security” on Dec. 30.

Catholic and opposition groups on Dec. 31 pushed ahead with banned demonstrations, which were met with a deadly crackdown by authorities, who fired tear gas into churches and bullets in the air to break up gatherings at Catholic masses.

At least eight people were killed and dozens arrested, including 12 altar boys leading a march in Kinshasa.

Internet cuts are common during anti-government demonstrations in the vast, mineral-rich central African country, which has been wracked by tension over delayed elections.

“Internet cuts, even short ones, disrupt economic growth, interrupt essential services, undermine investor confidence and degrade the country’s image,” according to a study published in September by the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA).

Protesters want President Joseph Kabila to promise he will not further extend his time in power in DR Congo, a mostly Catholic former Belgian colony.

Elections to replace him have been delayed and are currently set for December 2018.

U.N. chief Antonio Guterres has urged Kabila, in power since 2001, to abide by an agreement to step down.