Ugandan government on Tuesday banned social media and beefed up security in the capital two days ahead of a presidential election pitting Yoweri Museveni, one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, against opposition frontrunner, a popular singer, Bobi Wine.
Ahead of the vote, campaigning has been marred by brutal crackdowns on opposition rallies that have left scores dead and the repeated intimidation and arrest of some opposition candidates, their supporters and campaign staff.
In videos posted on social media on Tuesday, a convoy of armoured military vehicles were seen heading towards Kampala and then moving slowly through various streets in the heart of the capital, which typically votes against Museveni.
In a television address, the president said he had met with the security forces and they were ready to defend any Ugandans worried about coming out to vote because of intimidation by the opposition.
“There is no threat we cannot defeat. We have got all sorts of means, simple and complex,” said the 76-year-old leader who took power in 1986.
He apologised for the inconvenience caused by the ban on social media and messaging apps but he said Uganda had no choice after Facebook took down some accounts which backed his ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party.
Museveni said, “If you want to take sides against the NRM, then that group should not operate in Uganda. We cannot tolerate this arrogance of anybody coming to decide for us who is good and who is bad.”
See trend below:
@DrOlufunmilayo wrote: “Uganda holds their presidential election on Thursday. The current president has been there for 35years.
“He has shut down all social media in Uganda. He has arrested many times the opposition candidate BobiWine.
“If you wonder why #WeAreRemovingADictator is trending, this is why.”
@ayemojubar: “I wonder what dictators can do without the military? Absolutely nothing.”
@jharmo: “The End is here for president Museveni @KagutaMuseveni ! Africa most fascist leader! Jan 14th 2021 is the date! Another Uganda is very possible!#WeAreRemovingADictator #UgandaDecides2021 #NigeriaSupportsBobiWine”