Ugandans voted Thursday in presidential and parliamentary elections already alleged to be fraudulent, amid a social-media blackout that hit sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp.
Ugandans used VPNs, or virtual private networks, to bypass the blockages and tweet about the shutdown. Amama Mbabazi, one of seven candidates challenging Yoweri Museveni’s 30-year presidency, tweeted a VPN to his 138,000 followers.
The Guardian reported that Godfrey Mutabazi, the executive director of Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), said the shutdown was a “security matter.” He said the UCC initiated a 24-hour social-media shutdown upon instructions from Uganda’s Electoral Commission. The Election Commission, in turn, deferred the issue to the UCC. The Ugandan news site The Observer reports the shutdown will be lifted after the UCC assesses “the security situation.”
In an interview with Ugandan media, Museveni echoed what he called the security risk in social-media access during the election.
“There must be steps taken for security to stop so many creating trouble,” he said. “It’s temporary. It will go away. Because some people misuse those pathways. You know how they misuse them, telling lies. If you want a right, then use it properly.”