Pro-govt Facebook accounts in Uganda claim blocking

Sunday January 10 2021
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Ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) supporters and officials said blocking of their Facebook accounts was orchestrated by foreigners. PHOTO/NET.

By David Vosh Ajuna

Owners of over 50 Facebook accounts, aligned with the ruling National Resistance Movement [NRM] January 09, claimed blocking with some pages permanently unpublished or deleted on Facebook, a social networking application.

“Shame on the foreign forces that think they can aid and plant a puppet leadership on Uganda by disabling online accounts of NRM supporters. You won’t take away President Kaguta Museveni,” senior Presidential press secretary Don Wanyama remarked. 

Wanyama’s statement cements an NRM electoral campaign period tainted by accusations that opposition activities in the country have overtime been propagated with backing from foreigners who according to President Museveni, “stand no chance.”   

Well known blogger Ashburg Kato, quickly alleged that the California based tech giants had deleted their accounts pursuant to a request by opposition National Unity Platform (NUP) party presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine and his ‘aides’. 

“Facebook itself deleted our accounts on the request of Bobi Wine's handlers,” Kato tweeted. 

His rant further contends a call to action against Facebook from the president. 

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“We request President Kaguta Museveni to shut down the entire Facebook in Uganda,” Kato said. 

However, NUP Secretary General, Lewis Rubongoya, in response told Daily Monitor, “We are too busy concluding our election campaigns. We don’t have time for doing that."

Kato’s posts generated uproar with several Ugandans already speculating about a looming internet shutdown that could deny over 2.5 million Ugandans social media or even internet access during the electoral period that gets underway next week. 

Social media user Hammis Ssenkungu voiced outrage referring to the 2016 social media shut down during elections: “After reading Kato’s tweet, it looks like a deliberate plan seeking to justify a repeat of what happened in 2016- social media censorship.”

Notable deleted pages among others are those of NRM members, presidential adviser Jennifer Nakangubi aka Full Figure, socialite Ismah Olaxess and events promoter Bajjo.

Although they claim their accounts were taken down for touting anti-Bobi Wine sentiments, a section of the public writes it off as a last minute stunt ahead of the January 14 presidential election.

Some apolitical Ugandans also said they had no access to their Facebook accounts after they had been ‘anonymously’ pulled down overnight.

“I woke up and used my Facebook account at around 3am. The next attempt I made after 7am was futile," Vuga told Daily Monitor adding on that, "I have not been using my account for political activities or motives."  

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This photo handout from Facebook user Innocent Vuga is of a screenshot taken after he failed to access his account all through January 09.

Vuga’s remarks make it unclear whether it’s only NRM loyalists that have allegedly faced the wrath of the global tech giants. 

Until today, NUP has been a prime target for cyber-attacks, more than thrice reporting incidents of party members’ accounts being hacked or even deleted eternally or likened with phishing.

However, some in NRM including  Kato, who formally was an ardent supporter of presidential candidate Bobi Wine, also argue that their accounts remain a top cyber-crime target. 

Uganda decides who their president will be for the next five year term on January 14, 2021 with incumbent President Museveni in the race against nine other males and one female.

By press time, Facebook had not yet issued a statement regarding the matter.

dajuna@ug.nationmedia.com/ editorial@ug.nationmedia.com

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