Over the last two years, Cameroon’s government has gained a poor reputation for being repressive when it comes to internet freedoms. It’s had one of the longest-running intermittent internet shutdowns on record of 230 days between January 2017 and March 2018 as it tried to prevent political activists in the English-speaking regions of the country from using social media platforms to share information or organize. Because of this reputation, many watchers expected the government would again block the internet in the run-up to a highly contentious election in which the president, Paul Biya, 85, is looking to extend his 36-year rule by another seven years.
But the government has left the internet alone—for now. Internet usage has been shaky at times, but it has by and large stayed on. High-profile pressure from internet rights organizations like Access Now and Internet Without Borders has, so far, helped to dissuade the government from disrupting connectivity like other Africa countries have done during elections.
Yet, that has brought a different challenge for the government.
Voting, which took place on Sunday (Oct. 7), was mainly straightforward and peaceful, though not for the conflict-ridden Anglophone regions, where gunfire and other incidents were recorded in Kumba, Buea and Bamenda.