Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has said his government shut down social media two days before the country heads to the polls, accusing Facebook and unnamed outside groups of “arrogance” after the social media giant this week removed Ugandan accounts linked to his re-election campaign.
“That social channel you are talking about, if it is going to operate in Uganda, it should be used equitably by everybody who wants to use it,” Museveni said of Facebook in a national address on Tuesday. “If you want to take sides against the [ruling party], then that group will not operate in Uganda.
Museveni, dressed in a military jacket, said he was “sure the government has closed social media” and apologised to Ugandans for what he called an inconvenience.
Earlier in the day, Uganda’s communications regulator had ordered internet service providers to shut down social media and messaging services.
In a letter seen by news agencies on Tuesday, Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) Executive Director Irene Sewankambo ordered telecommunications companies to “immediately suspend any access and use” of social media and online messaging platforms.
An industry insider who spoke to AFP news agency on condition of anonymity said the order was first communicated in “nasty and aggressive” phone calls to the telecommunications companies on Tuesday morning. The calls made it clear the order was retaliation for Facebook deleting pro-government accounts for seeking to manipulate public debate before Thursday’s key polls.
The development came as, Bobi Wine, Museveni’s main challenger, said police had raided his home and beat two security guards.
Bobi Wine, a popular singer and politician whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, said the raid on his compound in Kampala and the arrest of his guards happened while he was doing an interview with Kenya’s Hot 96 FM radio station.
“I have to end the interview because I can see soldiers beating my security guards,” he said.
Patrick Onyango, police spokesman for the capital Kampala, denied Bobi Wine’s home had been raided or that anyone was arrested, saying: “We were just rearranging our security posture in the area near his home, specifically removing some checkpoints.
In other news – Full details on late actress Lindiwe Ndlovu’s funeral