Ahead of a highly-charged election on Thursday, Uganda’s communications regulator has ordered the closure of social media and messaging apps.
After one of the bloodiest campaigns in years, the vote will come as veteran leader Yoweri Museveni seeks a sixth term against popstar-turned-MP Bobi Wine, who managed to fire up a youthful population that had only one president most of the time.
Wine, who spent most of the campaign facing teargas, bullets and multiple arrests in a bulletproof vest and battle helmet, urged his supporters on Tuesday to ‘shield’ the election from rigging.
Despite the 38-year-old’s popularity, few observers believe he can pull off a victory against Museveni, a 76-year-old former rebel leader who has ruled since 1986 and effectively crushed any opposition.
Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter were down in the East African nation on Tuesday, after the communications regulator ordered a social media shutdown.
In a letter seen by AFP, Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) executive director Irene Sewankambo ordered telecommunications companies to “immediately suspend any access and use” of social media and online messaging platforms.