RSF urges Mauritania to restore mobile Internet
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns yesterday’s suspension of mobile Internet service in Mauritania, which is restricting the circulation of news and information about the country’s presidential election and is liable to undermine its credibility.
Mobile Internet service was disconnected yesterday, one day after the presidential election’s first round, and had still not been restored at midday today.
According to RSF’s information, mobile Internet went down in the middle of the afternoon, on June 23rd, shortly after the opposition staged a demonstration to dispute the official result, according to which the ruling party presidential candidate won the first round outright, dispensing with the need for a second round runoff.
“Censuring mobile Internet access and preventing the flow of information the day after voting in a presidential election that will supposedly lead to the first handover between two democratically elected presidents casts doubt on the election’s credibility and sends a very bad signal about press freedom in Mauritania,” said Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF’s Africa desk. “We firmly condemn such practices, which deprive journalists of an indispensable work tool and all Mauritanians of vital access to online news and information. We urge the authorities to restore the Internet in its entirety at once.”
On the eve of the election, RSF and 11 other NGOS addressed an open letter to outgoing President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz urging him to free Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mohamed Mkhaitir, a blogger who has been detained for the past five and a half years and who is now being held illegally, in defiance of a court ruling.
Mauritania is ranked 94th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.