On Wednesday, February 24th, the Niger National and Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) declared the candidate of the ruling party, Mohamed Bazoum, as the winner of the presidential election runoff with 55.75% of the votes. This outcome is disputed by the opposition candidate, Mahamane Ousmane who announced the next day his victory with 50.30%. The CENI announcement of provisional results was followed by clashes in the country and Internet disruption.
Internet shutdowns are contrary to national and international laws. They violate the fundamental rights of citizens such as freedom of expression, access to information and the right of peaceful assembly, among other rights guaranteed by national, regional and international instruments, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR).
In recent years, there has been a growing tendency in many African states to block the internet on the eve, the day or the day after elections. This disrupts the free flow of information and impedes the exposure of some human rights violations that could be revealed to national and international attention.
AfricTivistes vehemently denounces this situation which calls into question the transparency of the electoral process. Nothing can justify cutting off the Internet if the electoral process has gone well.
We call on the authorities to exercise some accountability and to respect citizens' right to inform and access information.
We call for calm and urge the government of Niger to uphold the rights of citizens to express their opinion and to voice their objections. The authorities should guarantee the principles of justice and equality of the different political opponents in the electoral contest; and ensure accuracy of the vote.
Furthermore, we call on telephone operators (Niger Telecom, Zamani Telecom, Moov Africa Niger, Airtel Niger) to refrain from complicity with the government in its attempts to muzzle public opinion. We urge them not to give in easily to pressure from the authorities to deprive citizens of their rights of access to information.
We call on the African Union, ECOWAS and the United Nations to monitor very closely what is happening in Niger so that the political transition can take place in a peaceful and calm manner and while upholding everyone's rights.
We remain in solidarity with the people of Niger.