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Social media apps were blocked on Zambia’s Election Day

Multiple internet service providers were down.
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Social media and instant messenger apps, including , WhatsApp, , and were blocked in Zambia on election day, August 12.

“We’ve looked into this and can confirm that there seems to be a social media shutdown affecting our apps and others, like Twitter,” a Facebook spokesperson said.

The Zambian government as well as the Office of the President did not respond to requests for comment.

On election day, the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) said there was “unprecedented” voter turnout, with long lines at polling stations as late as 6pm local time, when voting was supposed to end. The elections body said it would apply the necessary measures to ensure those that were still waiting in line voted.

Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu was seeking re-election with his main challenger being Hakainde Hichilema, a prominent businessman.

Already there have been issues related to the presidential election, with Lungu complaining of “mayhem” in at least three provinces, which he claimed to have deemed the elections as not free or fair.

“How can you talk about free and fair elections when our opponents have taken this election as war?” Lungu said. The president also said that the army had been deployed in those three provinces to maintain order.

On the other hand, Hichilema praised the ECZ for keeping polling stations open late into the night.

In a statement issued through Facebook, Hichilema said: “As today’s unprecedented turnout continues to make headlines across the world, and as the queues of voters stretch late into the night, we want to take this moment to thank our colleagues at the ECZ for keeping the polling stations open for as long as it takes to cast every single vote, and to thank those men and women in uniform, loyal to the constitution, for their ongoing efforts in the crucial hours and days ahead.”

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