Tensions have been on the rise in Uganda as Presidential elections approach. Recently, a Ugandan official accused Facebook of attempting to sabotage its Presidential elections. This was after the social media giant removed several accounts that were linked to President Museveni’s campaign.
This incident sparked mixed reactions among Museveni’s supporters, who took to clapping back at Facebook. Don Wanyama, the Presidential spokesman, told the Press that blocking Museveni campaigns revealed how much the foreign authorities were in support of Bobi Wine. In that, they could not wait to kick her out of the state.
“Facebook is interfering in the electoral process of Uganda,” he said. “If people wanted to have evidence of outside interference, now they have it.”
Wanyama was angered with the fact that Facebook had blocked the accounts of Museveni’s first-hand mobilizers, his translators who could communicate in the local Luganda language.
Whose Accounts were Blocked?
Among those affected is a singer, whom many know as a cheerleader in Museveni’s campaigns. Similarly, Facebook pulled out pages belonging to members of Museveni’s party. This included a prominent blogger ( Museveni’s supporter), a senior doctor, and an Information Ministry official. Although President Museveni’s account is still active, blocking his supporters’ accounts was an act of defying freedom of speech.
Wanyama criticized the foreign forces for thinking they could plant a puppet leadership in Uganda by disabling NRM supporters’ online accounts.
Facebook in Defense
In response to the allegations, Facebook mailed a statement to AP, which stated that it had removed a network of accounts and pages that “used fake and duplicate accounts to manage pages, comment on other people’s content, impersonate users, re-share posts in groups to make them appear more popular than they were. And since the Presidential elections are in the day’s time, Facebook acted swiftly by investigating and taking down the counterfeit network. They discovered the network was linked to Uganda’s Ministry of Information and Communications Technology.
Come January 14th, Ugandans will be bracing to the polling stations to cast their Presidential Votes. However, the ongoing tensions between the two Presidential candidates have sparked unrest in the country: Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine, happens to be the main opposition, contesting against President Museveni. Bobi Wine has accused President Museveni of deploying the military on several occasions to disrupt his campaigns.
Wine has also faced harassment on several occasions, a move he considers as President Museveni’s plot to intimidate him. In response, the 76-year-old President has dismissed Wine’s allegations and claimed that he has nothing to do with Wine’s incidences. He also stated that amid a specific occasion when Ugandan police dispersed Wine’s supporters, they looked out for COVID-19 safety regulations. Moreover, Museveni has accused Wine of being an agent of outsiders, homosexuals, and others who do not like Uganda’s stability and independence.
Meanwhile, Wine seems to have many supporters. He won the Parliamentary seat in 2017 because of his popularity and the love many have for him. As a flag bearer of the People Power Party, Wine is optimistic the Ugandans will make the right decision while selecting a leader they deserve.