Popular
Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images.

Burundian Government Shuts Down Social Media Amid Elections.

Burundian Government Shuts Down Social Media Amid Elections

As elections in Burundi continue despite the coronavirus outbreak, reports confirm that the government has shut down access to WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter.

Burundi has kicked of its scheduled national elections today despite the potential health concerns amid the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. However, while criticism of the decision to go ahead with elections continues, the government is now being condemned for shutting down all access to social media platforms. The BBC confirms that WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook are not accessible without the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) that conceal the identity of the user.


Over the past few months, massive political rallies have been held across Burundi in the build-up to today's elections. The ruling CNDD-FDD party led by President Pierre Nkurunziza has been going head-to-head with the main opposition, the National Congress for Liberty in a bid to retain power.

However, as reported in our previous coverage, there have been considerable safety concerns based on reports of documented violence by security officials. Lewis Mudge, the Central Africa Director at Human Rights Watch (HRW) says, "These elections will be accompanied by more abuses, as Burundian officials and members of the Imbonerakure are using violence with near-total impunity to allow the ruling party to entrench its hold on power."

The Burundian government has not yet officially responded to the partial internet shutdown. Human rights groups have warned that a partial internet shutdown will prevent the opposition from flagging electoral irregularities as well as maintaining transparency during the election process itself.

Burundi and several other African countries including Egypt, Zimbabwe, Benin and Ethiopia have been known to enforce internet shutdowns in the past particularly during elections and times of mass demonstrations.

Popular
Still from 'Road to Yesterday'

Kayode Kasum’s Quarantine Watchlist

From 'Wives on Strike' to 'Goodwill Hunting' here's what the Nigerian filmmaker is watching while stuck at home in Lagos.

Kayode Kasum, like most filmmakers, has been stagnated by the coronavirus pandemic. The director behind the blockbuster Sugar Rush and the critically acclaimed Oga Bolaji was working on the post-production of his upcoming movies, The Fate of Alakada: Party Planner and Kambili—a collaboration between FilmOne Entertainment and Chinese Huahua Media— when the Nigerian government announced the lockdown order.

While post-production on Alakada has concluded, the stay-at-home orders have delayed work on Kambili. "Since the team cannot meet at a single point, we are moving hard drives left and right," he says to me over the phone from his home in Lagos. "It is a challenge, but the beautiful thing about a challenge is, when you make it work, it is fulfilling."

Still from 'Kambili'

Kasum has turned to books and films for an escape from the unpleasant realities of the pandemic. "I have been reading Elnathan's books: Born on a Tuesday and Becoming Nigeria," he tells me. "I have also been reading film directing books, Directing Actors by Judith Weston." However, Kasum longs for the movies. "I miss going to the cinemas; I miss that experience," he says. "There are times during this pandemic that I'm like 'na wa o, I wish I can go to the cinema.'"

Below are five films he recommends you watch during this pandemic.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

Listen to Mr Eazi's New Song 'I No Go Give Up On You'

The Nigerian artist also recently announced an upcoming EP.