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Tanzania Government Censoring Mobile Networks Ahead Of Presidential Election

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With only four days to go before Tanzania’s hotly contested presidential election on October 28, the Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA) has ordered telco service providers to suspend access to bulk short messaging services (SMS) and bulk voice services. We have also received reports that individual text messages with election-related keywords are being blocked, and more expansive internet blocking may follow.

This is the latest development in a series of government actions to undermine digital rights in the country.

Access Now, together with 28 human rights groups from around the world that are members of the #KeepItOn coalition, via an open letter, are urgently calling on President John Magufuli and TCRA Director James Kilaba to ensure that the internet and all other communication channels are open, secure, and accessible throughout the election period and thereafter.

“Introducing such restrictive measures aimed at limiting people’s online and offline rights undermines the possibility of a free, fair, and transparent election,” said Felicia Anthonio, Campaigner and #KeepItOn Lead at Access Now. “The government of Tanzania must ensure an open and accessible digital space for all by immediately putting an end to such premeditated acts aimed at preventing people from actively engaging in the election process.”

The government of Tanzania must urgently take the following steps to facilitate transparency and enable citizens’ active participation in the upcoming election:

  • Reverse the TCRA directive ordering telcos to restrict services, and rather encourage telcos to ensure quality service to everyone throughout the election period.
  • Ensure that the internet, including social media and other digital communication platforms, remains open, accessible, and secure across Tanzania throughout the election.
  • Order internet service providers operating in Tanzania to provide everyone with high-quality, secure, and unrestricted internet access throughout the election period and thereafter.
  • Order internet service providers operating in the country to inform internet users of any disruptions and to work around the clock to fix any identified disruptions likely to impact the quality of service they receive.

Across the globe, elections are a trigger point for governments to disrupt access to the internet and other digital communications platforms, among other repressive acts aimed at limiting people’s online and offline activities.

The internet and digital communications tools play a crucial role in enabling people to exercise fundamental rights such as freedom of opinion and expression, access to information, and freedom of assembly.

The #KeepItOn coalition monitors potential disruptions, distributes circumvention resources, and urges authorities around the world to ensure access to open and secure internet and digital platforms during important national events like elections.

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East Africa Politics News

Zambia Celebrates 56th Independence Anniversary

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The Emir of Qatar, His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, has congratulated Zambian President, Edgar Chagwa Lungu, on the anniversary of the East African country’s Independence Day.

Zambia on Saturday observed a lowkey 56th independence anniversary from the British colonisation in Lusaka, the country’s capital.

The lowkey event started with the laying of wreaths at the Freedom Statue in which President Edgar Lungu led senior government officials and diplomats whose attendance was restricted.

The event later shifted to State House for an investiture ceremony where various people were honoured for their distinguished service to the country, with only 100 people allowed to attend due to restrictions posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The events were broadcast live on the state broadcaster, the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation.

This year’s celebration is being held under the theme, “One Land, One Nation, Building Our Future, Proud and Free.”

In his message on the eve of the anniversary, the Zambian leader said the government was determined to make the country a prosperous nation through improving different sectors of the economy.

Investments in various sectors such as roads and information technology were one way of growing the country’s economy.

He further emphasized the need for unity, adding that it was the dream of the country’s founding fathers to have a unitary and prosperous country where every citizen was equal before the law.

“Zambia shall forever be one country, one nation, indivisible and belonging to all of us as its citizens. It does not matter where one comes from, what language one speaks, what faith or political persuasion one holds. We all have a stake in our country,” he said.

The Zambian leader called on the current generation to emulate the spirit of the founding fathers who waged the struggle for independence, adding that they sacrificed everything in order to liberate the country from the shackles of colonialists.

“They came together, regardless of their differences, because they wanted this country to be free. Free from colonial rule and free from exploitation,” he added.

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#EndSARS: Nigeria’s Lagos To Prosecute 229 Suspects For Various Crimes

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The Lagos State Ministry of Justice will prosecute 229 suspects arrested by the police for allegedly using the #EndSARS protest to destroy and loot public and private properties in the state, a statement has said.

Kayode Oyekanmi, the Ministry’s Director, Public Affairs, in the statement on Saturday, said that the Lagos State Director of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), Mrs Olayinka Adeyemi, has gone round relevant Police formations for that purpose.

According to the statement, the DPP went with a team of prosecutors to evaluate files of those arrested by the police with a view to determine those that have prima facie cases made against them.

So far, 229 suspects have been arrested by the police for various criminal offences ranging from arson, murder, stealing, malicious damage of properties and assault before and after the state-wide curfew.

The curfew was imposed by Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Oct. 20 to restore law and order in the state.

“The Lagos State Ministry of Justice noted that after the evaluation exercise that those that have cases to answer will be arraigned before the courts while the others will be released.“

Some hoodlums had hijacked the peaceful protest of youths against brutality by operatives of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other police personnel tagged #EndSARS to commit various crimes across Lagos.

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