Uganda shut down all social media in the country on Tuesday after the country’s longtime leader accused Facebook of taking sides in the upcoming presidential election on Thursday.
President Yoweri Museveni, 76, apologized for the inconvenience caused by the ban, but said Uganda had no choice after Facebook removed several accounts linked to his re-election campaign.
“If you want to take sides (ruling party), this group will not operate in Uganda,” he said in a national address.
“We cannot tolerate this arrogance by having someone decide for us who is good and who is bad.”
Facebook said Monday it had removed a network of accounts linked to Uganda̵
The social networking giant did not immediately respond to the president’s comments on Tuesday, but Twitter, which also appeared to be affected, banned the blast.
“We strongly condemn the shutdowns of the Internet – they are enormously harmful, violate fundamental human rights and the principles of #OpenInternet,” it said in a statement.
“Access to information and freedom of expression, including the public conversation on Twitter, is never more important than during democratic processes, especially elections.”
Many social media users were outraged by Twitter’s comments, noting that the company – which recently suspended President Trump’s account – had mouthed The New York Post during the 2020 run over its reporting on Hunter Biden.
“What an amazing level of hypocrisy !!!” wrote a person.
“Stunning tweet. In the run-up to the election in this country, Twitter closed NY Post because it disagreed with its news reporting, ”commented another user.
Museveni, who has ruled Uganda since 1986, faces a challenge from popular singer and opposition lawmaker Bobi Wine, who has attracted a large following among the country’s youth.
Wine, 38, has used Facebook to directly cover his campaigns and news conferences, saying many media outlets – most of which are owned by government allies or are state-owned – had refused to host him.
The International Press Institute, a global media watchdog, called on Uganda to reintroduce social media networks.
“Any effort to block online access for journalists or members of the public is an unacceptable violation of the right to information,” it said in a statement.
With mail cables