The Ugandan government has reopened social media sites that have been closed since the election of President Museveni. Internet and social media services have been shut down due to security concerns and the smooth running of the election, according to the government, and the use of social media sites other than Facebook has been restored, according to Uganda’s ICT Minister OgwangOgwang.
Internet related services were closed before the presidential election on January 14, 2021. Ugandans shifted to using private networks to gain access to the internet. Ugandans are facing many challenges in internet connectivity as life depends on the internet today. Security forces arrested dozens of people accused of election-related violence, around the headquarters of the main opposition party, the National Unity Platform whose leader, Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine, was detained at his home for several days in January. This has raised serious concerns among election stakeholders and raised suspicions in Musaveni victory. The general shutdown of the internet is one of the reasons why Kyagulanyi wants the victory of President YoweriMuseveni to be annulled because it was unfair, he said.
The government has argued that social media is spreading fake news that threatens national security and the elections. The minister said in reference to national security, the government on January 13th ordered a complete shutdown of the internet and a partial restoration a few days later but Facebook was still shut down.
“We apologize for the inconvenience, but it was important for the security of our country. Let’s be constructive, not destructive consumers / users of social media, “said Peter Ogwang, State Minister for Information, Communications and National Orientation, on Wednesday announcing that the Twitter channel has been restored.
The government ordered the closure of Facebook ahead of the January 14th election following reports that the company had closed 220 accounts linked to the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology. While the government is arguing for this, there are concerns about freedom of expression and expression among Ugandans as there are reports that the government is targeting bloggers.
Facebook said the accounts were fake or duplicates used to write notes on Museveni and his son, Lieutenant General MuhooziKainerugaba, who appeared to be the most famous of them, which led to the termination of those accounts.