Ugandan gov’t finally restores internet after month-long shutdown

Internet was fully restored in Uganda on Wednesday almost a month after a near-total blackout was imposed across the country ahead of elections the opposition says were rigged.

The restoration of the internet and social media comes days after security forces announced dozens of arrests for alleged election-related violence, and surrounded the headquarters of the main opposition party, National Unity Platform (NUP) whose leader, Robert Kyagulanyi was last month confined to his home for several days.

Long-term leader Yoweri Museveni was declared the winner of a January 14 presidential election, securing 58.6 percent of the vote and a sixth term after 35 years in power.

His main rival, musician-turned-lawmaker Bobi Wine, came a distant second with 34.8 percent. He has rejected the results and decried the election as a sham.

The outgoing Kyadondo East MP has petitioned the Supreme Court seeking to nullify Mr. Museveni’s victory.

The government said an unprecedented internet shutdown imposed on January 13 for alleged national security reasons had been fully lifted.

“Internet and Social media services have been fully restored. We apologize for the inconvenience caused, but it was for the security of our country. Let’s be constructive, NOT destructive consumers/users of social media,” Minister of State for Information, Communication Technology and National Guidance Peter Ogwang tweeted Wednesday.

The runup to polling day was marred by bloodshed and a sustained crackdown on government critics and Museveni’s rivals.

At least 54 people were shot dead in November over two days of street protests over Bobi Wine’s arrest, and the opposition leader was repeatedly detained and his rallies broken up with tear gas and live rounds.

The United States last month said it was “deeply troubled” by reports of violence and irregularities in the president’s poll, though Mr. Museveni declared it the cleanest in Uganda’s post-independence history.

Bobi Wine was the frontrunner of 10 opposition candidates running against the veteran leader, who has ruled uninterrupted since taking power as a rebel leader in 1986.

Once hailed for his commitment to good governance, the former rebel leader has crushed any opposition and tweaked the constitution to allow himself to run again and again.

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