Uganda has asked Google to block at least 14 YouTube accounts linked to opposition presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine.
The channels include TMO Online, Lumbuye Fred, Trending Channel UG, Uganda Yaffe, Uganda News Updates, Ghetto TV, Busesa Media Updates, Uganda Empya, Map Mediya TV, KK TV, Ekyooto TV, Namungo Media, JB Muwonge 2, and Bobi Wine 2021.
Most of them have been live-streaming Bobi Wine’s campaign rallies.
Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) says these channels are used to mobilize riots that resulted in the loss of lives and property in Uganda last month.
The channels also misrepresent information, views, facts, and events in a manner likely to mislead the public, UCC also claims.
“[They contain] extremist or anarchic messages, including messages likely to incite violence against sections of the public on account of their tribes and political opinions … [and] may compromise national security and cause economic sabotage,” states UCC’s December 9 letter to Google.
Bobi Wine however says the move by the government shows President Yoweri Museveni has “panicked”
“Having gagged Ugandan media with all manner of repressive laws, raids, arrests & intimidation (plus taxing social media), the regime now asks Google to block social media channels that support us or carry the message of change! The dictator is in panic!” he said.
Days before the letter to Google, the government had directed all journalists to register with the Uganda Media Council, a move that media practitioners in the country have protested.
Police said journalists without accreditation from the Council will not be allowed to cover political events.
Wine has repeatedly criticized long-time President Museveni for failing to tackle corruption and unemployment, and the government’s human rights record.
He has been arrested several times in the last two years on various charges including treason.
Museveni, 76, who took power after a five-year guerrilla war, became eligible to seek re-election after lawmakers, most of whom are his supporters, abolished the upper age limit of 75 for a presidential candidate.