Amnesty International is calling on Ugandan officials to lift the social media bans imposed before Thursday’s elections.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni announced on Tuesday that the government had shut down social media. On January 9, Facebook removed dozens of pro-Ugandan government accounts, saying they were “fake”. Museveni characterized Facebook’s action as arrogant.
“It is alarming that the Ugandan authorities have suspended social media, such as Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp, and restricted people’s right to freedom of expression and access to information,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty Regional Deputy Director International for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, in a press release.
Amnesty International said the move was aimed at silencing opposition journalists, election observers and politicians.
“Such closures are a violation of the right to freedom of expression and access to information,” Jackson said. “The Ugandan authorities must immediately lift all general restrictions and end their wave of political repression before the general elections.”
Amnesty International alleged that some Ugandan officials were “circumventing” the bans.
Ugandans will go to the polls on Thursday to vote for the country’s next president. Musician-turned-politician Bobi Wine is the most prominent of the 11 candidates challenging Museveni, who has led the country since 1986.