"The temporary shutdown of the internet was a necessary step to stop the vitriolic language and incitement to violence. It is noteworthy that despite efforts by internal and external actors to promote violence, the Government of Uganda has been able to preserve peace,” Kutesa said.
Minister Sam Kutesa Meets Ambassadors
The internet shutdown by the government during the just concluded
presidential and parliamentary elections helped to prevent the incitement of
violence and use of malicious language, according to Foreign Affairs Minister, Sam
He disclosed this while
presenting a formal brief to Heads of Diplomatic Missions and International
organizations on Wednesday at the Ministry headquarters in Kampala. Kutesa
said told the ambassadors that unfortunately, some of the political
leaders who lost the elections have continued making inflammatory statements
with the aim of inciting violence.
He says the shutdown of social media denied the masterminds of the
violence space to propagate their information. "The temporary shutdown of
the internet was a necessary step to stop the vitriolic language and incitement
to violence. It is noteworthy that despite efforts by internal and external
actors to promote violence, the Government of Uganda has been able to preserve
peace,” he said.
Kutesa said that Uganda has continued to enjoy peace without any major
incidents of election violence or common criminality. He also defended the
massive deployment of the military and police on the streets. "From the
beginning of the campaigns some candidates talked about plan, B which was to
commit violent acts," he said.
He noted that to this day, the election losers continue to stoke fear
and incite violence, which is a clear and present danger to the stability of
Uganda, adding that no country that upholds democracy can tolerate the said
Plan B of violent people. Kutesa also
said the government decided to shut down Facebook and Twitter in Uganda in
retaliation to the closure of several Government accounts.
"We asked Facebook and Twitter to restore the closed Government of Uganda
and NRM accounts but they didn’t heed. In response, we shut them down to
ensure equity. Also, some social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter shut
down Government of Uganda & NRM accounts leaving accounts of other
political actors active - an interference in our elections. We shut them down
to ensure equity after not heeding to our call to restore closed accounts,” he
During the internet shutdown, Facebook flagged down a post by Kenya’s
President Uhuru Kenyatta congratulating President, Yoweri Kaguta labelling it as
false information. This prompted the Kenyan Government to delete the messages
for fear of falling victim to Facebook and Twitter massacres.
Although the government has restored internet services, one cannot access social
media sites without using the Virtual Private Network (VPN) to bypass the
blockade. The social media war started in December 2020 when Uganda
Communications Commission (UCC) asked internet giant Google Inc to remove a number
of pro-opposition accounts from YouTube, a request Google declined and asked UCC
to present adequate information including a court process.
Although in 2016 Government shut down Social media sites during elections, the
total shutdown of the internet this time around took Ugandans by surprise. This
affected several internet users including businesses like safe body and Jumia
and general internet use.
Kutesa said that Government is committed to ensuring domestic tranquillity, security
and welfare of its citizens. He regretted the death of Ugandans in the November
riots that saw over 50 people killed by security but said the demonstrations
were orchestrated by the opposition.
"The insurrection of November 2020 in
Kampala and other parts of Uganda was unprecedented but not spontaneous. Some
of these leaders aided and abetted the rioters" Kutesa said.