Uganda has ordered internet service providers to block all social media platforms and messaging apps on Tuesday until further notice.
Reuters reports that the development was revealed in a letter from the country’s communications regulator which followed complaints from users who were unable to access Facebook and WhatsApp, social media platforms.
The platforms were being widely used for campaigning ahead of Thursday’s presidential election in the East African country.
The letter from the commission’s executive director, Irene Kaggwa Sewankambo, to internet providers reads in part:
In exercise of its functions under section 5(1) of the Uganda Communications Act of 2013, Uganda Communications Commission hereby directs you to immediately suspend any access and use, direct or otherwise, of all social media platforms and online messaging applications over your network until further notice.
Reuters reports that the commission’s spokesman Ibrahim Bbossa and government spokesman Ofwono Opondo did not answer calls requesting comment while an aide to Minister of Information, Judith Nabakooba, said she was unable to comment at the moment.
A source in Uganda’s telecom sector said the government had made clear to executives at telecoms companies that the social media ban was in retaliation for Facebook blocking some pro-government accounts.
The U.S. social media giant said on Monday it had taken down a network in Uganda linked to the country’s ministry of information for using fake and duplicate accounts to post ahead of this week’s election.
Reports suggest that platforms being blocked include WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram among others. There are indications that “Telegram may also be blocked.”
This is happening ahead of Thursday elections in which Bobi Wine, real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, intends to challenge the incumbent president, Yoweri Museveni, 76, who aims to extend his rule to at least 40 years.