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Uganda orders social media blocking ahead of election

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Ahead of Uganda’s heated election on Thursday, the government’s ordered internet service providers to block all social media platforms and messaging apps until further notice, according to a letter from the telecommunications regulator seen by AFP said.

In the letter, the director of the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), Irene Sewankambo, ordered operators to “immediately suspend all access” to these services, including Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Signal and Viber.

Ugandans complained earlier on Tuesday they could not access Facebook and Whatsapp.

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The platforms were being used for campaigning by candidates such as pop-star turned politician Bobi Wine, who has emerged the main challenger to 76-year-old President Museveni.

Wine on Tuesday alleged his home was raided and staff beaten by security forces ahead of the election.

Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, said the ruling party was trying to scare voters away from the ballot box and urged them to record any abuses or irregularities on polling day.

“We encourage all voters to stay and guard the vote,” he told reporters in Kampala, flanked by two other opposition candidates.

But the electoral commission has told voters to go home quickly after casting their ballot due to coronavirus precautions.

Meanwhile, on Monday, Facebook shut dozens of accounts belonging to Ugandan government officials accused of seeking to manipulate public debate ahead of the votes.