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Mozambique blocked rioters' texts

Pre-pay punters switched off

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A letter apparently from the Mozambique communications authority asked mobile networks to block text messages during food riots in the southern African country earlier this month.

Hundreds of people were arrested over the protests and 13 killed, after the government put up the price of bread by a third. Petrol and electricity also went up sharply. The riots were encouraged by round-robin text messages.

A letter sent by the National Communications Institute or INCM asked both Vodacom and M-Cel to switch off text message functions but only for pre-pay customers. The letter, seen by the BBC, was sent to Mediafax which noted that messaging was unavailable to pre-pay punters on both networks for several days.

Google Translate's version of the story is here.

A South African human rights group, where Vodacom is based, said the move was an infringement of free expression.

The price rise was forced on the government by currency movements allied with 50 per cent jumps in wholesale wheat prices. The prices shot up thanks to lack of rain in Russia and excessive rain in Canada. ®

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