Amnesty International is calling for Ugandan officials to lift bans on social media imposed ahead of Thursday’s election.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni announced on Tuesday that the government had shut down social media. On Jan. 9, Facebook deleted dozens of pro-Ugandan government accounts, saying they were “fake.” Museveni characterized Facebook’s action as arrogant.
“It is alarming that the Ugandan authorities have suspended social media networks including Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp and restricted people’s right to freedom of expression and access to information,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, in a press release.
Amnesty International said the move was intended to silence journalists, election observers and opposition politicians.
“Such shutdowns are a violation of the right to freedom of expression and access to information,” Jackson said. “Ugandan authorities must immediately lift all blanket restrictions, and end their wave of political repression ahead of the general election.”
Amnesty International alleged that some Ugandan officials were “circumventing” the bans.
Ugandans head to the polls Thursday to cast ballots for the country’s next president. Musician-turned-politician Bobi Wine is the most prominent of 11 candidates challenging Museveni, who has led the country since 1986.