Uganda Lifts Restriction On Internet After Five-Day Shutdown Over Presidential Election
Uganda authorities have switched on the country’s internet, five days after it was shut down due to general election.
The country shut down internet about 48 hours to its presidential election which held on January 14.
The Ugandan authorities had ordered telecommunications companies to “immediately suspend any access and use” of social media and online messaging platforms.
We think now people have come to terms with the results. However, we remain on alert. Whatever was done was done for the good of the country. The opposition was affected and the ruling party was also affected. Even the general public was affected.
Although the internet is now on, social media access remains blocked.
The development comes two days after Uganda President Yoweri Museveni was declared the winner of a January 14 presidential election marred by allegations of massive rigging and intimidation of opposition members, securing 58.6 percent of the vote and a sixth term after 35 years in power.
His main rival, musician-turned-lawmaker Robert Kyagulanyi, popularly known as Bobi Wine, came a distant second with 34.8 percent. He has rejected the results, and decried the election as a sham.
A government spokesman said an unprecedented internet shutdown imposed on January 13 for alleged national security reasons had been lifted.
Ofwono Opondo, the spokesman, told AFP;
The Internet has been restored. Other platforms are still under review. We shall go full throttle depending on what happens in the initial phase of opening connectivity. We advise Internet users, especially those from the opposition, not to use it to promote hate messages, threats and intimidation.
Social media access remained patchy in the capital, Kampala, where millions of Internet users have been unable to send emails, search the web, or use Facebook, WhatsApp and other communication platforms for the better part of a week.
NetBlocks, a non-governmental organisation that tracks Internet shutdowns, said network data showed a rise in connectivity in Uganda to 37 percent after all but core infrastructure, regulatory and government networks were switched off.
The organisation stated;
This suggests that Uganda’s election shutdown, or at least the procedure under which it was implemented, was planned some time in advance. This has been one of the more orderly nation-scale network blackouts we’ve tracked.
Headquarters of Wine’s National Unity Platform (NUP) in Kampala was under police guard on Monday in what the opposition leader called a “raid” by security forces.
Uganda police spokesman, Fred Enanga, said 55 people had been arrested over the election period for “violent acts” including blocking highways and damaging property.
Adding that the accused would face court, Enanga said;
Though the polls were peaceful and a success, there were criminal elements that wanted to cause violence.
The runup to polling day was marred by bloodshed and a sustained crackdown on government critics and Museveni’s rivals.
At least 54 people were shot dead in November over two days of street protests over Wine’s arrest, and the opposition leader was repeatedly detained and his rallies broken up with tear gas and live rounds.