Deby lifts Chad social media restrictions

Chad's President Idriss Deby, pictured (R) July 7, 2019, has said he was lifting social media restrictions imposed more than a year ago for "security reasons"

Chad President Idriss Deby said Saturday he was lifting social media restrictions which were imposed more than a year ago for "security reasons." "For some months, security requirements led the government to toughen access conditions and control measures for electronic communications," Deby said in a closing address to a digital forum in the capital N'Djamena. "These measures were imposed in a context of terrorist threats (but)" the current situation " leads me ... to instruct the firms concerned to lift immediately the restriction on electronic communications," said Deby. On Saturday afternoon, it was possible to access social media applications including Whatsapp and Twitter, an AFP journalist reported. Access was cut to social media in March last year as public opposition mounted over Deby's plans to push through changes to the constitution shoring up his power after almost three decades in office. Access remained possible using VPN networks but use of those is costly in one of the world's poorest nations. Barely five percent of the population enjoy internet access. Chad is a Western ally in the fight against jihadist groups in Africa and notably faces threats from Boko Haram, which has made several deadly incursions into its territory in recent months. The largely desert north, bordering Sudan, Libya and Niger, is highly volatile while several rebel groups have set up base just over the border with Libya. In late January, Chad rebels seeking to destabilise Deby entered the northeast of the country from Libya but were pushed back after French air strikes. In the east, farmers and nomadic groups have also clashed while the south on the border with the Central African Republic is still tense after the 2013 overthrow of former CAR president sparked unrest which spilled over the border. Legislative elections in Chad are scheduled to take place by the end of the year having been postponed several times since 2015 as Deby, who grabbed power in 1990, looks to maintain his grip on the country.

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