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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.

Interview
Photo: Benoit Peverelli

Interview: Oumou Sangaré Proves Why She's the Songbird of Wassoulou

We caught up with the Malian singer to talk about her new Acoustic album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

When Oumou Sangaré tells me freedom is at her core, I am not surprised. If you listen to her discography, you'll be hard-pressed to find a song that doesn't center or in some way touch on women's rights or child abuse. The Grammy award-winning Malian singer has spent a significant part of her career using her voice to fight for the rights of women across Africa and the world, a testimony to this is her naming her debut studio album Moussolou, meaning Woman. The album, a pure masterpiece that solidified Oumou's place amongst the greats and earned her the name 'Songbird of Wassoulou,' was a commercial success selling over 250,000 records in Africa and would in turn go on to inspire other singers across the world.

On her latest body of work Acoustic, a reworking of her critically acclaimed 2017 album Mogoya, Oumou Sangaré proves how and why she earned her accolades. The entirety of the 11-track album was recorded within two days in the Midi Live studio in Villetaneuse in 'live' conditions—with no amplification, no retakes or overdubs, no headphones. Throughout the album, using her powerful and raw voice that has come to define feminism in Africa and shaped opinions across the continent, Oumou boldly addresses themes like loss, polygamy and female circumcision.

We caught up with the Malian singer at the studio she is staying while in quarantine to talk about her new album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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