Burundi shuts down popular social media platforms

Wednesday May 20 2020
By The EastAfrican

Burundi has shut down popular social media platforms, as the presidential election got underway Wednesday morning.

WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and Yahoo Mail are all inaccessible, as Burundians head to polling stations to elect a new president and parliamentary representatives.

The shutdown comes as fears grow of possible violence during and after the polls.

YouTube, TikTok and Twitter, which are less popular among Burundians, remain accessible.

There is no official comment from the government regarding the shutdown. 

“Contrary to the rumours the internet wasn’t cut off,” tweeted Willy Nyamitwe, the president's communication advisor.


There was tight security Wednesday morning in Bujumbura, as voters queued to cast their votes in the presidential and legislative elections.

“I couldn’t access my WhatsApp this morning and I wasn’t aware of what went wrong until a friend told me to install VPN so now am connected,” said a Bujumbura resident.

Burundi’s month-long campaigns were marred by violence that saw more than one hundred people arrested and at least four killed during confrontations between the ruling party militants Imbonerakure and supporters of CNL political party.

All voters were ordered to return to their homes after casting their votes in efforts to avoid outbreak of violence.

The Burundi polls are happening amid the global Coronavirus pandemic.

There was no social distancing at polling stations but voters were obliged to wash their hands before joining queues.

Burundi has recorded 42 Covid-19 positive cases, one death and 20 recoveries.