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Amidst reports of escalating serious violence, the people of Côte d’Ivoire will head to the polls on October 31, 2020, to vote for the nation’s next president. As internet shutdowns continue to damage democracy across the region — particularly during national events — civil society is appealing to the government and internet service providers to continue to invest in open, secure, and free internet access for the duration of the election period, and beyond.
“Elections give everyday citizens a voice,” said Felicia Anthonio, Campaigner and #KeepItOn Lead at Access Now, “they provide space and opportunity to help shape the future of a nation. No government has the right to interfere with that — but that’s exactly what we’re seeing across the globe when governments order internet shutdowns. People in Côte d’Ivoire have the right to access information, and communicate during this important time. The government must protect democracy, and keep the internet on.”
To date, there have been no recorded cases of government-mandated internet shutdowns in Côte d’Ivoire. Access Now and the #KeepItOn coalition are appealing to President Alassane Ouattara to uphold this clean record, and ensure there are no interruptions to internet services before, during, or after the scheduled elections, specifically:
- Ensure the internet, including social media and digital communication platforms, remains open, accessible, and secure;
- Order internet service providers to provide quality, secure, free, and open internet throughout the elections and inform internet users of any disruptions; and
- Publicly assure the people of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire that the internet and all social media platforms will be on.