When 35-year-old doctor Didier Lalaye went back to his home country of Chad, it wasn’t long before he became frustrated. He couldn’t open the files on his computer, he couldn’t communicate with his university back in the Dutch city of Utrecht, or even Skype friends or family. “It just makes life really difficult,” he tells TIME. “People have complained, but nothing has changed.”

It’s been one year since access to social media platforms and messaging apps, including Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Viber, was blocked in Chad’s latest example of internet censorship. Initially, mobile operators attributed the problems to technical issues, but have since disclosed that the block was ordered by the government led by President Idriss Déby, according to observers. Leading the central African nation of 14.9 million people for almost 30 years, Déby was controversially re-elected in 2016, with a similar online blackout lasting for eight months following his victory. This time round, controls over the Internet appear to have started after proposed constitutional changes were agreed at a conference in March 2018, allowing 66 year old Déby to remain in power until 2033.


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