Eswatini orders Facebook shut to curb protests

 Eswatini orders Facebook shut to curb protests

The Eswatini government has directed the country’s main telecoms operator, MTN, to shut down social media giant Facebook, reports say.

The move is in a bid to curb pro-democracy protests that have been going on for months amid calls for political reforms.

Privately-owned pro-opposition Swaziland News website reported on the government accusing social media platforms of “irresponsibly” spreading misinformation, which was “contributing to the violent attacks and events around the country”.

“As government, we have an obligation to restore peace and order to bring a stop to the violence currently taking place,” the website quoted a letter from Information Minister Princess Sikhanyiso to the communications regulator as saying.

MTN also sent a message to its users informing them of the decision to shut down Facebook.

“Yello Valued Customer, Please note that MTN received a directive from the regulator to suspend access to Facebook until further notice and the directive has been implemented. We regret the inconvenience caused,” the message said.

The latest development comes as protests continued on the streets of the capital, Mbabane, on Thursday.

Since late June, Eswatini has experienced a wave of protests by demonstrators calling for major constitutional reforms that will allow them to elect their own leaders as well as an end to the country’s absolute monarchy