The Government of Uganda through the Communications Commission has directed all mobile operators to immediately block all access to Facebook, WhatsApp, other social media platforms and online messaging applications, until further notice.
The East African nation go to the polls on Thursday, January 14 in an election pitting incumbent Yoweri Museveni against 10 candidates including opposition front-runner Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu (popularly known as Bobi Wine), a singer-turned-lawmaker whose star power has rattled the ruling party, in a way like never before.
The 38-year-old Bobi Wine and his National Unity Platform have rallied the youths in a bid to challenge the 75-year-old Museveni who has been in office since 1986; using the power of the social media in huge campaigns that have left several of his aides, bodyguards and members of his entourage been arrested, jailed and killed.
Big tech giants, Facebook had on Monday, taken down a network in Uganda linked to the country’s Ministry of Information for using fake and duplicate accounts to post ahead of this week’s presidential election., a move that was roundly criticised by the Government.
Uganda ordered internet service providers to block all social media platforms and messaging apps on Tuesday until further notice, a letter from the country’s communications regulator seen by Reuters said.
Users had complained earlier on Tuesday that they were unable to access Facebook and WhatsApp, social media platforms being widely used for campaigning ahead of Thursday’s presidential election in the East African country.
“Uganda Communications Commission hereby directs you to immediately suspend any access and use, direct or otherwise, of all social media platforms and online messaging applications over your network until further notice,” said the letter from the commission’s executive director to internet providers.
The commission’s spokesman Ibrahim Bbossa and government spokesman Ofwono Opondo did not answer calls requesting comment. An aide to Minister of Information Judith Nabakooba said she was unable to comment at the moment.
A source in Uganda’s telecom sector said the government had made clear to executives at telecoms companies that the social media ban was in retaliation for Facebook blocking some pro-government accounts
Mali Woman Gives Birth To Nine Babies: Government
Mali’s government flew 25-year-old Halima Cisse, a woman from the north of the poor West African state, to Morocco for better care on March 30. She was initially believed to have been carrying septuplets.
Cases of women successfully carrying septuplets to term are rare — and nonuplets even rarer.
Moroccan health ministry spokesman Rachid Koudhari said he had no knowledge of such a multiple birth having taken place in one of the country’s hospitals.
But Mali’s health ministry said in a statement that Cisse had given birth to five girls and four boys by Caesarean section.
“The mother and babies are doing well so far,” Mali’s Health Minister Fanta Siby told AFP, adding that she had been kept informed by the Malian doctor who accompanied Cisse to Morocco.
They are due to return home in several weeks’ time, she added.
Doctors had been concerned about Cisse’s health, according to local press reports, as well as her babies’ chances of survival.
Mali’s health ministry said in a statement that ultrasound examinations conducted in both Mali and Morocco had suggested that Cisse was carrying seven babies.
Siby offered her congratulations to “the medical teams of Mali and Morocco, whose professionalism is at the origin of the happy outcome of this pregnancy”.
Ghana Begins Digital Verification of COVID-19 Test Results
Ghana has become the first country in the Economic Community of West African States to deploy a system for digital verification of COVID-19 PCR test results.
The system, which is based on the African Union Trusted Travel and ECOWAS BIOMARS standard, is being implemented by the Ministry of Health through the Ghana Health Service.
This is expected to provide an ease of verification prior to travel and upon arriving in the country, and also help stop the circulation of fake test results which could damage the country’s effort against the spread of COVID-19 through imported cases.
A statement issued by the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, revealed that the technology platform is powered jointly by the Ghana Health Service and the PanaBIOS Consortium.
According to the statement, “All travellers, Airlines and Diplomatic Missions, Port Health, COVID-19 testing laboratories and all other relevant stakeholders in Ghana are informed that only test results or certificates bearing Trusted Travel or BIOMARS codes will be considered valid for travel out of Ghana from 21st April 2021.
“Travellers arriving in the country must use a tool made available through the UNDP-supported Global Haven partnership ( PCR test results certificate verification) for Covid-19
“All travellers are strongly encouraged to sign up for accounts with the same e-mail address and mobile numbers they provided to the laboratories during testing.”
Jubilation As Uganda Switches On Internet After Days
It was jubilation galore on Monday, as Uganda switched on the internet after it had shut it down before it’s presidential election.
The internet was switched off o. January 13 following fears that it would be used to spread messages of hate and violence amid the country’s general elections held on January 14.
Ofwono Opondo, government spokesman told Xinhua by telephone that the internet had been switched on after data collected indicated that there would be no violence.
“Internet was switched off because people wanted to spread messages of hate and violence, as well as discredit the integrity of our elections,” Opondo said.
“We think now people have come to terms with the results.
“However, we remain on alert,” he added.
On January 13, a day before the country went for presidential and parliamentary elections the internet was switched off.
“Whatever was done was done for the good of the country.
“The opposition was affected and the ruling party was also affected. Even the general public was affected,” Opondo said.
Although the internet is now on, social media is still blocked.
In the Thursday election, incumbent President Yoweri Museveni won with 58.64 per cent of the tallied votes while his closest rival Robert Kyagulanyi got 34.83 per cent.
The presidential race attracted 11 candidates.
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