Beninese will head to general elections without social media, and internet at large, with the largest internet service provider, Spacetel, shut down in the country.
This follows a threat by activists groups of nationwide protests, some of which have already been contained by police forces.
The protests have been fueled by a move by Benin’s election committees that ruled that only two parties allied to the nation’s current President Patrice Talon had met the requirements for participation in the polls.
This left the country without opposition candidates in the race.
According to Amnesty International West Africa, the parliamentary election has been marred by the lack of opposition groups and the arrest and intimidation of journalists and political activists.
Social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram, Telegram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tinder have been shut down in the country.
There have also been reports of heavy military and police presence in the streets of major cities and amidst a social media blackout, and in an event of excessive use of force by law enforcement agencies, citizens will be unable to access emergency services, or to document human rights violations or tampering with election results.
“The decision to shut down access to the Internet and social media on an election day is a blunt violation of the right to freedom of expression. It is effectively silencing human rights defenders, journalists and bloggers who are monitoring contested parliamentary elections without opposition candidates. We call on the authorities of Benin to immediately lift all blanket restrictions on access to the internet and social media to enable people to freely express their opinions and report on any election-related matter,” said Amnesty International in a statement.