The Ugandan government, through its communications agency, has ordered service providers to halt internet access just hours before voting starts.
The move effectively means that Ugandans will cast their ballots on Thursday amidst an internet blackout.
Confirmed: Social media and messaging restricted in #Uganda as authorities impose internet gag order for elections; data show Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat, Skype, Viber and some Google and Telegram servers impacted #UgandaDecides2021— NetBlocks.org (@netblocks) January 12, 2021
MTN Uganda informs its esteemed customers & other stakeholders that National Telecommunication Operators in the country, have received a directive from Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) to immediately suspend access & use, direct or otherwise of all social media platforms...— MTN Uganda (@mtnug) January 13, 2021
Information coming in is that the regime in Uganda is going to order for a complete shut down of the internet in a short while. No matter what they do, the world is watching.— BOBI WINE (@HEBobiwine) January 13, 2021
The shutdown also comes days after the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) reportedly ordered providers to block all social media platforms and messaging apps until further notice.
The country is set to commence voting in an exercise that will see President Yoweri Museveni, 76, defend his seat from several presidential contenders including popstar cum politician Bobi Wine, 38.
The election also follows a bloody campaign period characterised by State repression aimed at opposition candidates.
"Information coming in is that the regime in Uganda is going to order for a complete shut down of the internet in a short while. No matter what they do, the world is watching," Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, said on Wednesday evening.
Earlier today, the United States Ambassador to the country announced that America had cancelled its decision to observe the election after the country’s electoral commission failed to accredit its observers.
“It is with profound disappointment that I announce US Mission in Uganda’s decision to cancel our diplomatic observation of Uganda’s January 14 elections due to the decision by the Electoral Commission of Uganda to deny more than 75 per cent of the US election observer accreditations requested,” Amb Natalie Brown said in a statement.
11 candidates are running for the country's top seat in this year's poll.