Press release

Uganda: Social Media Ordered Blocked for Museveni Inauguration

Washington

Following the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) directive to telecommunications providers to shut down social media platforms in advance of President Museveni’s inauguration to another five year term after 30 years in office, Freedom House issued the following statement:

“The Ugandan government is making a habit of shutting down social media at will, particularly since the February elections,” said Vukasin Petrovic, director for Africa programs.  “Those actions raise more questions about the credibility of the entire electoral process, and shows the government’s lack of confidence in its own standing.”

“The government should protect the openness of the internet at all times, not shut it down to limit critical commentary that is vital to democracy,” said Mai Truong, program manager of the Freedom on the Net project.

Background:

As Ugandans prepare for President Museveni’s inauguration on May 12, 2016, the UCC  issued a directive to telecommunications providers, including MTN Uganda and Airtel Uganda, to shut down social media platforms until 6 p.m. on May 12.  Users confirmed that Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp were immediately affected. MTN Uganda cited “the requirement of its license specifically article 7.4 that requires MTN to provide assistance to government in the event of an emergency or crisis related to National Security” as the reason for the shutdown. The government last directed providers to block access to social media for three days during the February general elections.

Uganda is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2016, Partly Free in Freedom of the Press 2016, and Partly Free in Freedom on the Net 2015.