Is Internet shut down a sign of Democracy and Transparent election process?

On 14th January the General Election Day, Ugandan citizens woke up in the shadow of full Internet lockdown. Initially, the government on Wednesday 13th first disabled all social media platforms including big giants Facebook and Twitter. However, most Ugandans bypassed this using the VPN applications but to so many peoples surprise the government went still ahead to Lock the entire country down with no Internet.

This information of Internet shut down was passed through the Uganda Communications Commission which sent strict orders to all network providers in Uganda to shut down all the Internet services. Network giants MTN and Airtel when ahead to obey the unlawful government orders. The shutdown left services like Mobile money services, online payment services, online Radios and Television, among others highly affected.

The opposition in Uganda called this the very most cowardly act of all time. Officials in National Unity Platforms went ahead to say that the Internet shut down was targeted at them and their Voting Tracking App the UVote application in the sense that without Internet this application would be rendered helpless.

However, the National Unit platform officials also confirmed to us that this was a government wastage of time because the application can still work with no Internet and they further confirmed that their UVote tally centre was not located in Uganda but in some European Country. The Internet shut down made everything difficult for so many people especially the Opposition polling agents who had to upload the Declaration Forms from each Polling station on the UVote application.

Also reports that’s came in indicated that polling agents from the opposition where arrested during the elections and after elections thus giving chance to the ruling party to staff and ridge votes. In some areas where opposition agents where not arrested, they were instead abducted with the declaration forms and then these forms altered in the favour of the ruling government. Most Opposition polling agents especially for the NUP party disappeared till to-date and some who still have the valid declaration forms being hunted by security forces.

It should be noted that the government strongly opposed the having of Parallel tally Centers by opposition parties. On the polling day, a tally centre that was set by the independent observers at hotel Africana in Kampala was raided by security forces and a number of people arrested.

The National Unity platform continues to confirm that they have been able to receive some declaration forms from a good number of polling stations and all these place Bobi wine in avery big lead margin. They said they expect more declaration forms from the agents on run to come in and they will continue to update the results. Bobi Wine today said that Mr. Byabakama, the electoral commission chairman, was not in control of the elections and all the results being displayed and announced at Kyambogo main tally centre were doctored. 

When asked by a journalist to the election chairman how these results they were announcing and putting Museveni in lead came in despite the country wide internet shutdown? The chairperson replied “we have our way” which ways are those? Are these elections free and fair? Where is the transparency in the all process when the citizens’ rights to information have been proudly stepped on?

By Edward Mutebi

Born in Uganda, Edward founded the human rights organization "Let's walk Uganda" and was the executive director of that organization until the year 2018. Currently living in Berlin he is going to do his Master Degree in "Social Works as a Human Rights Profession". Following the Human Rights Violations in Uganda and many other countries he decided to establish the News Pool #theworldiswatching. The idea behind this platform is the intention of providing information shared by activists in Social Media to the International News Community, to document Human Rights Violations and to create awareness to the world.

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