Uganda bans social media ahead of presidential election
- 13 January 2021
Uganda banned social media and beefed up security in the capital on Tuesday, two days ahead of a presidential election pitting Yoweri Museveni, one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, against opposition frontrunner Bobi Wine, a popular singer, APA reports citing Reuters.
Campaigning ahead of the vote has been marred by brutal crackdowns on opposition rallies that have left scores dead and the repeated intimidation and arrest of some opposition candidates, their supporters and campaign staff.
Videos posted on social media on Tuesday showed a convoy of armoured military vehicles heading towards Kampala and then moving slowly through various streets in the heart of the capital, which typically votes against Museveni.
In a television address on Tuesday evening, the 76-year-old leader who took power in 1986, said he had met with the security forces and they were ready to defend any Ugandans worried about coming out to vote because of intimidation by the opposition.
“There is no threat we cannot defeat,” said Museveni, wearing a military camouflage jacket. “We have got all sorts of means, simple and complex.”
The European Union said on Tuesday it expected Uganda to provide a level-playing field for all voters to exercise their democratic rights without fear of intimidation or violence.
“The excessive use of force by law enforcement and security agencies has seriously tarnished this electoral process,” said Josep Borrell, the EU’s top diplomat. He said the bloc’s offer to deploy a small team of electoral experts was not taken up.
Museveni apologised for the inconvenience caused by the ban on social media and messaging apps but he said Uganda had no choice after Facebook took down some accounts which backed his ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party.
“If you want to take sides against the NRM, then that group should not operate in Uganda,” he said. “We cannot tolerate this arrogance of anybody coming to decide for us who is good and who is bad.”