Uganda Election: Internet restored but social media platforms remain blocked

Government orders telecom firms to switch off Internet and Mobile Money on polling day (PHOTO/File).

KAMPALA – Ugandans are celebrating the resumption of internet services after a shutdown was imposed ahead of last week’s election.

However, social media platforms remain blocked and are only accessible using Virtual Private Networks (VPN).

President Yoweri Museveni, who won a controversial sixth term in office, had accused the platforms of being biased.

Bobi Wine, presidential candidate for the opposition National Unity Platform, insists the poll was marred by fraud.

The party’s spokesperson Joel Ssenyonyi accused Mr Museveni of shutting down the internet to prevent them from sharing evidence of fraud.

He told the BBC’s Newsday programme that the party was in the process of collecting election results forms that have evidence of irregularities.

Mr Ssenyonyi told the Reuters news agency that NUP’s offices had been raided.

“They don’t want work to continue at our offices because they know that we are putting together evidence to show the world how much of a fraudster Museveni is,” he said.

The electoral commission declared Mr Museveni the winner with 58% of the vote, with his closest challenger Bobi Wine garnering 34%.

Mr Museveni has ruled Uganda since 1986.

The communication blackout has led to strong criticism against the Ugandan government from human rights organisations.

On Sunday, Jake Sullivan, whom U.S. President-elect Joe Biden has chosen to be his national security adviser, tweeted:
“The news from Uganda is deeply concerning. Bobi Wine, other political figures, and their supporters should not be harmed, and those who perpetrate political violence must be held accountable. After this flawed election, the world is watching.”

Bobi Wine’s party also said Sunday that the opposition candidate and his wife are unable to leave their home, with soldiers surrounding the entrance and barring his colleagues and journalists from entering

In the meantime, security forces continue to surround Bobi Wine’s home, with senior officers saying the move was aimed at preventing violence.

There is also a heavy deployment of soldiers and police in the streets on the capital, Kampala, the BBC’s Patience Atuhaire reports.

Additional reporting by BBC

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