Uganda shuts down social media; candidates arrested on election day By Briana Duggan,

Tensions mounted as votes in Uganda are counted in an election that saw the detention of the leading opposition candidate, a ban on social media and allegations of voter fraud.

Ugandans voted on Thursday on the fate of President Yoweri Museveni, who is hoping for a fifth term after ruling the nation for the last 30 years.

The day began with many politically-minded voters unable to tweet or update their Facebook pages after a government ban on social media.

After casting his vote at his home in western Uganda, Museveni defended the ban as a “security measure to avert lies … intended to incite violence and illegal declaration of election results.”

Human rights groups condemned the social media clampdown. Many citizens accessed social media sites via encrypted private networks. A similar shutdown occurred during the 2011 general election.

“The Ugandan government’s decision to block access to social media on mobile phones on election day is a blatant violation of Ugandans’ fundamental rights to freedom of expression and to seek and receive information,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s deputy regional director. “Without clearly defined security concerns, this closure is nothing but an exercise in censorship as Ugandans elect their leaders.”

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