Internet and mobile SMS fell into a total blackout in the West African nation of Togo on the morning of Sept. 7. Anti-government protests have been surging as opposition leaders demand that President Faure Gnassingbé step down. On Sept. 5, users began reporting that mobile internet connections were spotty and that social media sites like Facebook were inaccessible altogether. By the morning of Sept. 7, the same researchers told Global Voicesthat all internet networks (mobile and fixed connections) were down, and that all mobile SMS and mobile money transactions were being blocked.

In a broadcast by Togolese Victoires FM radio station, public service minister and government spokesperson Gilbert Bawara confirmed that the internet had been cut for security reasons. “Even in most developed countries, authorities take control of telecommunications in some cases,” he said.

Protesters’ primary objective is to prevent legislators from allowing President Gnassingbé, who has been in power since 2005, to run for another term. The president succeeded his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, who held power for 38 years.

While the shutdown has made it difficult for Togolese demonstrators to report what they’re seeing on social media, blogger Farida Nabourema was sending tweets from the Togo-Ghana border, where she reported that she was able to get a signal…