Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has explained that the social media, Facebook has been blocked by Government, after the National Resistance Movement (NRM) supporter’s accounts were pulled down.
Over the weekend, hundreds of pro-Government Facebook accounts were pulled down by Facebook. But Facebook says that they removed a network of accounts and Pages in Uganda that engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior to target public debate ahead of the elections.
“They 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 that they were. Given the impending election in Uganda, we moved quickly to investigate and take down this network,” says the Facebook Spokesperson for East Africa, Janet Chepkosgei Kemboi.
According to Kemboi, they found this network to be linked to the Government Citizens’ Interaction Center at the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology in Uganda.
Now making his final address on Tuesday evening to the country ahead of Thursdays elections on Thursday, President Museveni said that Facebook has been blocked for pulling NRM messengers accounts.
Museveni said Uganda does not need lectures from anybody because there is “nothing we don’t know”. He says that Facebook decided to target NRM message senders by blocking them.
He questioned why anyone would do that and said he called on his team to warn Facebook that if it is going to operate in Uganda, it should be used equitably by everybody who wants to use it. He says if the group wants to take sides against the NRM, then they will not operate in Uganda.
Museveni says unfortunately Facebook did not respond to NRM’s request and he is sure that Government has closed social media. He says this is unfortunate but it is unavoidable, adding that there is no way anybody can play around with Uganda and decide who is good and who is bad.
He however apologized for the inconvenience, but said Government cannot tolerate the arrogance of anybody.
On elections, Museveni asked Ugandans to go out and vote saying nobody will intimidate the voters because they are ready to deal with them.
For one to access the social media sites now, one can only use Wifi internet. Several attempts by many to connect through the Virtual Private Networks (VPN)’s that usually bypassed the blockage proved futile for many.