(Ecofin Agency) – Free access to the Internet has become an important indicator for measuring peoples’ freedom. Despite everything, in recent years, many African populations have seen their access to the web restricted, especially during election periods.
In Uganda, the communications regulator ordered the shutdown of the Internet network before the start of the poll on January 14. The web has therefore been inaccessible in the country since January 13 at 4 p.m. GMT. Access by other third-party means to applications such as WhatsApp, Facebook or Twitter has been particularly restricted and around 100 virtual private networks (VPNs) have been blocked.
The decision provoked a wave of criticism from the population, which does not seem to disturb the local authorities. “It’s unfortunate, but inevitable. We cannot play with our country, decide who is good and who is bad. We are putting an end to this. We cannot accept it ”Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said. However, the communications regulator initially denied any blockage.
According to some sources, this decision was taken in retaliation against Facebook. The social network recently closed several accounts belonging to government officials or supporters of President Yoweri Museveni. However, this is not the first time that internet access has been restricted during Ugandan elections. During the 2016 presidential election, the country cut off access to social networks “For security reasons”.