Ahead of national elections, Rwanda’s National Election Commission (NEC) has ruled that presidential candidates’ social media updates need to be pre-approved by the organisation before the candidates can post them online.
Candidates will have to submit their social media messages to seven election commissioners at least 48 hours before their publication. Social media posts include text, photographs and videos that candidates wish to publish on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram or on websites.
According to the electoral commission, this measure is aimed at preventing “declarations, words, acts that can lead the population to acts of insecurity that could divide the Rwandan population.”
The measure to regulate social media will take effect on 14 July ahead of the presidential elections set to take place on August 4. The opposition has criticised the move saying it will be used to block any criticism of President Paul Kagame who has been in charge of the country since 1994 and is running for a third term after changing the constitution to allow him to run again.
The Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA), a statutory regulator of media has also criticised the move.