Gabon's government shut down its internet for a full four days following protests over President Ali Bongo's re-election to presidency. The country's networks were plunged into darkness for 104 hours, making it the longest nationwide outage since Libya during the Arab Spring protests in 2011.
The switch was flipped just before 9pm on Wednesday 31 August with Gabon Telecom cutting off connection to 91% of the country's IP addresses and mobile internet as violence erupted in the streets of the capital, Libreville, over claims of electoral fraud. The only remaining systems reported to be operating were connections to satellites.
UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, expressed concern over the outage and urged for action to be taken: "I call on the government to immediately restore communications, especially the Internet, SMS and the independent radio and television."
While no official reason was given to the internet outage it is understood the government activated blackout was a tactic to supress public uprising and the ability to organise protests. It is not the first time this has been exercised with several other African countries including Uganda, Republic of Congo and Ethiopia also adopting similar outages to kerb political unrest around elections.
Angry demonstrators in Libreville set ablaze Gabon's national assembly, looting, violent clashes and a shopping mall was vandalised following Bongo's victory over opposition Jean Ping, who accused Bongo of stealing the vote.
Akamai, an internet performance company that monitors the state of networks worldwide, noted the outage and reported that services were finally restored as of 4.30am (local time) on 5 September.
Those attempting to logon were reporting the service was able to access websites but access to social media was still offline. Large questions remain over the human rights implications of state controlled internet outages as it continues to be a well-used tool for governments.
In response to the outage Anonymous re-ignited its #OpGabon operation, calling for hacktivists to make a stand against the Gabonese government and help where they can. One hacking group called MCA DDoS Team has claimed to have already taken down the official portal for the government of Gabon.