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The #KeepItOn coalition has sent an open letter to the Zambian government with an urgent appeal to keep internet services on during the August 12 general election period.

Previously, in 2016 there were unconfirmed reports that the internet been disrupted for several days, as well as in 2020. As a result, Zambia has been on the Coalition’s radar, especially in the build up to the 2021 General Election.

Recently, there have been reports on social media, that the country may experience an internet shut down, or at the very least, the network will be slowed down. Meanwhile, some users have reported very slow internet speeds over the course of the past few days.

The Coalition has made an urgent appeal to the government and service providers, particularly MTN, Airtel and Zamtel to ensure that the internet remains open, accessible and to ensure that the rights of citizens are upheld during the electoral period.

Internet shutdowns are an infringement on the rights of citizens, as they bar the freedoms of opinion and expression. They also disrupt major emergency services, economic activities and the flow of information within the country. Additionally, internet shutdowns cause panic among citizens, which intensifies an already tense situation. Therefore the coalition has recommended the government to;

• Ensure full internet access nationwide and refrain from arbitrarily blocking access to social media platforms such as Twitter, WhatsApp, Telegram, and Facebook, and websites of media outlets throughout the election period and thereafter;

• Publicly assure the people of Zambia that the internet and all other digital communication platforms, will remain open, accessible, inclusive, and secure across Zambia throughout the election and thereafter;

• Order all internet service providers in Zambia to provide everyone with high-quality, secure, inclusive, and unrestricted internet access throughout the election period and thereafter; and

• Order all internet service providers, to inform internet users of any potential disruptions, and to take all reasonable steps to fix any identified disruptions likely to impact the quality of service they receive.

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