Senegal limits mobile internet access amid protests

A presidential election postponement sparks clashes and internet restrictions in Senegal, one of Africa’s most stable democracies.

The Senegalese government has limited access to mobile internet as protests erupted against President Macky Sall’s postponement of a presidential election that was scheduled for 25 February.

The bill that could allow Sall to stay in power beyond 2 April, when his term ends, was set to be discussed in parliament, prompting the cut of mobile internet access in Dakar and other regions.

The ministry of communication, telecommunications and digital economy said the internet was limited “due to the spread of several inciting and subversive messages on social networks in the context of threats and disruptions to public order”.

The move adds to the political crisis in one of Africa’s most stable democracies since Sall’s announcement on Saturday to delay the vote. He blamed a conflict between the judiciary and parliament over the disqualification of some candidates and the alleged dual nationality of some eligible candidates.

Many users in the capital of Senegal reported that they could not use mobile data on their phones since the morning.

Opposition leaders urged a demonstration outside parliament, a day after violent street rallies rocked Dakar, where security forces used teargas against protesters and arrested at least one prominent opposition figure.

The workers’ union at Sonatel, the main telephone operator of Senegal, on Sunday warned of a potential blackout, saying it “rejects any idea by the Senegalese government to cut or restrict the internet”.

The government had also cut mobile data last June amid high tensions in the country.

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