The tech giant accuses some officials of a coordinated attack aimed at public debate ahead of Thursday’s election.
A number of Ugandan government officials and ruling party members have seen their Facebook accounts shut down as the internet giant accuses them of manipulating public debate ahead of the main elections.
Residents of the east African country will vote on Thursday to elect a new president and a new parliament amid a tense and bloody election campaign, with outgoing President Yoweri Museveni, 76, facing a tall order from pop star turned politician Bobi Wine.
“In view of the impending elections in Uganda, we quickly investigated and dismantled this network,” Facebook said in a statement on Monday, adding that the decision was linked to the government ministry of information and communication technologies.
“They used bogus and duplicate accounts to manage pages, comment on other people’s content, pose as users, re-split posts into groups to make them look more popular than they were,” he adds.
Ugandan information minister Judith Nabakooba told Reuters news agency she needed more time to investigate the situation before commenting.
Museveni’s senior press secretary Don Wanyama, who saw his Facebook and Instagram accounts shut down, accused the company of seeking to influence the election.
“Shame on the foreign forces who think they can help and establish puppet leadership over Uganda by disabling the online accounts of [ruling party] NRM supporters, ”he said on Twitter.
“You will not take President Kaguta Museveni away,” he added, using the president’s second name.
Shame on the foreign forces who think they can help and establish puppet leadership in Uganda by disabling the online accounts of @NRMOnline supporters. You can take your platforms, you won’t take them @KagutaMuseveni votes.# IWillVoteM7#SecuringYourFutur pic.twitter.com/70wan34jAb
– Don Wanyama (@nyamadon) January 9, 2021
Gender, Labor and Social Development Minister Frank Tumwebaze also accused the social media platform of targeting Ugandan accounts and urged Facebook to unblock them.
Plz @THIS @ITUSecGen One of the threats against which we must denounce in our digital ecosystem is this abuse of communication platforms by the tech giants. Connectivity is not a right to be enjoyed at the mercy of the tech giants. @Facebook shd unblock selectively targeted #Ugandan ASAP accounts! https://t.co/L0q8wTnCxw
– Frank K Tumwebaze, MP: Psalms 124: 1-8 (@FrankTumwebazek) January 10, 2021
Museveni’s online account is still active, but many government officials and ruling party members have had their pages deleted, including a well-known blogger and Museveni supporter, a prominent doctor and a senior ministry official. Information.
The closing of the account comes amid heightened tensions between the two main candidates who are running against nine others.
The president, in power since 1986, has long accused foreign organizations and elements of supporting Wine in an attempt to remove his government.
The 38-year-old opposition candidate, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, has ignited the imaginations of many across Africa as he attempts to topple Museveni, who has deployed the military to prevent what he sees as attempts by the opposition to create civil unrest. this could lead to a regime change.
Last week the police faced Wine as he announced his petition to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate allegations of torture and other human rights violations in the country.
A key element of the petition to the ICC is the call to investigate allegations of torture, mutilation and murder of civilian protesters.
Dozens of opposition protesters have been killed in a campaign marked by a crackdown on Wine rallies.
In November at least 54 people were killed in the capital, Kampala, and in other parts of the country as security forces quelled riots sparked by Wine’s arrest for allegedly violating campaign regulations designed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.