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#UgandaDecides Despite Social Media Blocks for 2016 Elections

Social media has been blocked in Uganda all day today for the presidential elections. The current president,Yoweri Museveni, 71, is running for a fifth term and has said the censorship is to stop people "telling lies."


The highly sensitive situation has been escalating all week, following unconfirmed reports of the arrest of Museveni's opposition, Kizzi Besigye.  Earlier today, one of the tightest political races in East Africa got underway and it was never going to be a quiet affair.

At least two polling stations in the capital were shut down today after run ins with the authorities and for many, there has been no access to any social media or chat apps all day.

Mr Museveni has said "Some people misuse those pathways. You know how they misuse them - telling lies. If you want a right then use it properly." 

When questioned on it, the head of Uganda's media regulator, Godfrey Mutabazi said the block was supposed to prevent voters being bribed. 

Kizza Besigye previously stated that the election will not be free or fair, despite this and the fact that social media has been blocked, #UgandaDecides is still trending on Twitter. 

It seems many have been finding ways to bypass the restrictions. This is mainly thanks to leading contender for the presidency, Amama Mbabazi tweeting advice on how to do so:


For those who don't know, 'VPN' stands for Virtual Private Network. It will change your location to make it look like your internet activity is coming from a different computer in an alternative country. This way, people could avoid the government's block and continue to tweet/post/like/share to their heart's content.

The voting has not gone smoothly today. Some polling stations opened late after a 5 hour delay due to difficulties in transporting the "electoral materials." Crowds gathered and tempers rose as voters waited several hours to vote. The police even used teargas to diffuse the situation. Some stations have extended voting for another three hours to make up for this. Voters saying that they received fake ballots also caused delay and for those voting stations to be closed.

It is safe to say that this "security" and censorship has marred the election for thousands of people. For now, the result will be eagerly anticipated.

A candidate will need over half the votes to win outright. Anything less than this and they may face a run-off with the runner up. Badru Kiggundu, the chairman of the Uganda Electoral Commission will announce the winner roughly 48 hours after the voting began.

Megan is a country girl who moved to the city with some big dreams. She is studying her MA in Creative Writing whilst also managing an American Football Team.  She loves her blog and wants nothing more than to have her words read. That and to win the Championship, obviously. Follow her @MeganAtSMF

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#UgandaDecides Despite Social Media Blocks for 2016 Elections Reviewed by Unknown on Thursday, February 18, 2016 Rating: 5

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