Ethiopia has Resorted to Its Old Habit of Blocking the Internet to Quell Internal Unrest

 

FCO 284 - Ethiopia Travel Advice Ed2 [WEB]Jijiga, August 9, 2018 – Ethiopia’s government has regressed to an old habit: shutting down the internet.

Reports show the internet has been blocked in the eastern cities of Jijiga, Dire Dawa, and Harar following violence and simmering political tensions. Over the past weekend, federal troops were deployed to the eastern Somali regional state, leading to a standoff with local police, lootings, and death. The region’s leader Abdi Mohamoud Omar, better known as Abdi Iley, was forced to resign and replaced by his finance minister Ahmed Abdi Mohammed.

Following the unrest, officials cut off internet access to the region, with no explanation from either the ministry of communications or the sole mobile operator and internet provider Ethio Telecom.

The move is indicative of an old Ethiopian government trick, blocking the internet or access to specific social media sites like Facebook and Twitter during anti-government protests or unease. During the state of emergency in 2016, the government made posting updates about the protests on Facebook a crime. In 2017, officials blocked the internet ahead of scheduled national examinations fearing activists will leak the tests. All these cut-offs, research showed, drained millions of dollars from the economy.