By Mable Nakibuuka
Secrets that have been unearthed by our Moles within security circles indicate that the Minister for Security Gen. Elly Tumwine, is the one who ordered the Uganda Communications Commission to direct telecom service providers to switch off the internet and social media prior to and throughout the electoral period.
Our Moles have revealed that a few days to the January 14th presidential election, a high level meeting was convened by the National Security Council (NSC), which is chaired by Gen. Tumwine and overseen by president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.
According to the Moles, some of the few government officials who attended the NSC meeting besides President Museveni and Tumwine were Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, the CDF, the IGP and Deputy IGP, the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) Executive Director Irene Ssewankambo, the Minister for ICT Hon. Judith Nabakooba Head of Uganda UPDAF, the Commandant SFC, the among others.
It is said that one of the resolutions the meeting came up with as a way of ensuring security in the country throughout and after the electoral period was to switch of the internet.
A total internet blackout, would, according to our Moles, cut off mobilisation and communication channels like Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and other social media platforms through which opposition politicians would rally their supporters to riot in the event that the election didn’t turn out in their favour.
All those in attendance agreed that social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp and others had been used by some politicians to urge their supporters to engage in the destructive November 18-19th riots that sparked off after the police arrested National Unity Platform (NUP) leader Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine in Luuka District.
We are told that as Security Minister, Gen. Tumwine argued that there was no way the country would experience a repeat of what happened during the November 18-19 riots, hence the internet, which had been the biggest communication medium for the rioters had to be switched off.
An internet blackout would also immobilise all opposition forces and enable security operatives to pick them up from their various locations quietly and detain them for days without news about their disappearance circulating on social media.
The standoff between the government of Uganda and the owners of Facebook also prompted Gen. Tumwine to push for the switching off internet and social media, according to our Moles.
It should be noted that towards the presidential elections, the government requested Facebook to shut down all accounts and online media platforms that were broadcasting the political activities of Bobi Wine.
When the managers of Facebook turned down the government’s request and advised them to go to court, ICT geeks working for the state hacked many of the pages, accounts and online media platforms that were being managed by NUP and Bobi Wine’s team, prompting Facebook to shut down all the accounts and pages that were being run the National Resistance Movement (NRM).
In retaliation, government, through the Ministry of ICT and Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) switched off Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media platforms.
But soon they realised that opposition politicians would still use the internet and Virtual Private Network apps to access social media so in order to prevent that, the NSC meeting resolved that UCC and the Ministry of ICT cause an intentional internet black out prior to, during and after the electoral period.
So it was during the NSC meeting that Gen. Tumwine directed UCC’s Ssewankambo and Minister for ICT Hon. Nabakooba, to ensure that all telecommunications companies in Uganda switch off internet for their clients until government would permit them to resume operations.
The lengthy internet blackout, which resulted into the loss of jobs and billions of shillings for Ugandans whose employment entails working online, persisted into the country until February 10th, when President Museveni relented and allowed internet service providers to operate again in Uganda, including lifting the ban on social media.
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