The Rwandan Election Commission has ruled that it must pre-approve all of the social media updates of Rwanda’s presidential candidates.
“We are asking (candidates) to present us their messages, their drafts to verify that they are not against the law,” electoral commission head Kalisa Mbanda told AFP on Monday.
Social media messages by the presidential candidates will have to be submitted to the seven election commissioners at least 48 hours before their publication.
“If the message is not accepted it cannot be published,” said Mbanda.
Perhaps spurred by reactions to Donald Trump’s unconventional use of twitter before and after the US elections, the measure will go into effect on the start of the official campaign on July 14 and concerns “messages, photographs and other campaign material” published on social networks.
Mbanda said the goal was to “prevent declarations, words, acts that can lead the population to acts of insecurity that could divide the Rwandan population.”
Already political opponents, diplomats and human rights organisations have criticised this directive as a move to stifle political oppositions and censorship of freedom of expression. It is yet to be seen if Kagame will also have his social media messages vetted before publication.
Kagame has been in charge since taking power at the head of a rebel army in 1994 and has already served two seven-year terms as president.