Internet Suspension amidst Protests in Burkina Faso

Internet suspension extended in Burkina Faso amidst protests.

The government of Burkina Faso, in the face of growing public anger over the repeated assassinations of Islamist activists, extended the internet suspension on Wednesday while offering conflicting reasons as to why access was cut in the first place.  

The internet suspension which commenced on Saturday was justified by invoking a legal provision relating to “the quality and security of networks and services and compliance with national defence and public security obligations. The internet suspension or blackout came amid protests against the French government and allied forces after forty-nine personnel of the military police and four civilians were killed by suspected jihadists near the northern town of Inata on November 14. 

Due to expire on Wednesday evening, the internet suspension or blackout was extended by the government for 96 hours, citing the same legal provision in a statement signed by government spokesman Ousseni Tamboura. 

However, Tamboura had earlier provided a different explanation for the initial Internet shutdown in comments to reporters. Our nation needed silence … to ensure that we can bury our soldiers with dignity. This restriction is closely related to that, ”he said. Many military policemen killed in Inata were buried  Tuesday in a ceremony that some of their relatives and friends criticized as devoid of dignity. 

Opponents of President Roch Kaboré on Saturday mobilized for new protests against the government’s inability to contain violence by activists from West African regional affiliates of Al Qaeda and the Islamic State. The former colonial power, France, which has thousands of troops deployed in the region, has been at the receiving end of part of the public’s anger. Hundreds of people in the town of Kaya flocked over the weekend to block a convoy of French armoured vehicles en route to neighbouring Niger. The convoy has not yet managed to leave Burkina Faso.

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