Internet Connectivity Restored In Uganda
After five days of Total Internet shutdown and darkness, Uganda Communications Commission has gradually restored Internet connectivity.
There are complaints that the speeds are still very low in typical Ugandan fashion and leave a lot to be desired.
While addressing the nation, on the eve of general elections, the long time serving President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni said that the Internet shutdown was done in a bid to come down insecurity and disrupt organizing riots online that was becoming a culture with youth, as well as cut out foreign interference in Uganda's sovereignty.
In an interview with the government’s spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo, he said that the unprecedented Internet shutdown imposed on January 13th was for security reasons. After the announcement of Museveni's victory, he changed the tone. He said the country would have a day to react to the election results, under the watch of government and security forces, before restoration could be done on Monday (today).
“Internet has been restored however other platforms are still under review; we shall go full throttle depending on what happens in the initial phase of opening connectivity; we advise Internet users, especially those from the opposition, not to use it to promote hate messages, threats, and intimidation,” Ofwono Opondo told AFP.
According to NetBlocks, connectivity had risen to 37%; however, core infrastructure, regulatory, and government networks were still switched off. Social media, too, in Uganda, remains blocked. Common social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp are still inaccessible for some users, with an overwhelming majority accessing them via Virtual Private Networks (VPN). It is unclear when the blockade on social media will be removed.
According to the opposition leader Kyagulanyi Sentamu, the shutting down of the internet was done to deny the public, his supporters, his polling agents, and election observers from accessing information around the country and from different polling stations. For this reason, he continues to say that the election results were rigged, and he disagrees with what the chairman of the Electoral commission Justice Simon Byabakama delivered to the public.
The spokesperson National Unity platform Senyonyi said that President Museveni ordered the shut down of the Internet to prevent them from sharing evidence of fraud. He added that the party was collecting election results forms that have evidence of irregularities.
"National Unity Platform’s offices have been raided; they don’t want work to continue at our offices because they know that we are putting together evidence to show the world how much of a fraudster Museveni is.”
However, on Saturday 16th of January 2021, in his address to the nation after being declared a winner, President Museveni dismissed all the opposition's fraud allegations.
"I think since 1980, this is the only free and fair election Uganda has had. This is the most cheating-free election in Uganda's history since the Electoral commission introduced the use of Biometric machines,” President-Elect Museveni.
The opposition said consistently that the election results were tampered with, and the Electoral Commission chairman asked them to prove these allegations to the court with evidence.
The shutting down of the internet in Uganda a day before elections has attracted so much concern and condemnation from both the country's local bodies and the international bodies against the act, saying that it is an ill act.