As Uganda draws closer to the February 2016 presidential elections, the fever of anxiety in government corridors is rising. Over the years, election periods have seen a crackdown on social media, voices critical of the ruling party, and independent media in the guise of promoting public order and unity as well as preventing the spread of false information. This, however, has sparked debate on the fine line between preserving national cohesion and hampering free speech.
Incumbent President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power for 29 years and is gearing up to run in the February 2016 elections, has in recent weeks been vocal on the use of social media. On May 30,
2015 he expressed disdain for “sectarian and abusive” audio recordings that were widely shared on the popular mobile messaging platform WhatsApp. The audios featured an exchange of words between unidentified individuals, supposedly from the Bahima and Bakiga ethnic groups, ridiculing each other. Museveni, who hails from the former group, called for the immediate arrest of the people involved in the recordings. He accused them of using sectarianism to achieve political advantage.
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