Friday, February 19, 2016

Going Dark - Uganda Political Update

Guns & tear gas versus bricks and sticks
It was early, on Election Day in the nation of Uganda, that the Uganda Communications Commission banned usage of Facebook and Whatsapp.  It was only through a VPN app that people within the nation could access those sites.

Pam and I discovered that evening we still had email communications available when she received an email from our daughter Stephanie.  About the same time I got a call from our daughter Rebecca on Messenger.  Both avenues of connection brought a bit of relief.  At least we could keep our family and friends informed concerning the consequences of a very volatile election day crisis.

But, sometime during the night, the nation went DARK.

Our wireless internet system was operational, but the internet could not be accessed.  We have come to depend on social media connections so much that I had a strong feeling of isolation when this happened.

Voters surround policeman struggling to hold election materials
The desire for peace was being threatened as people everywhere here in Uganda complained about such brute force measures.  "For what?" was the cry of many.  There was a sense that freedom of speech was not a privilege anymore.

Before we lost access to the Internet, a friend sent me a link from the BBC that featured a story about the Ugandan Election Day and the blocked social media sites.  You may find it interesting HERE.

Though no official results have been released by the Elections Commission, television and radio are reporting exit poll estimates that show the incumbent, President Museveni, receiving around 62% of the vote.

Some polling places opened late and promised to reopen the following day when voters failed to cast their ballots before they closed.  The lead contender for president, Besigye, was arrested when he went to a polling place and interfered with the voting process after hearing reports of fraud there. There was a report of two people losing their lives due to violent strife in Kampala the day after the election.

Voters stood in long lines to cast votes
Last evening, February 19th, about 300 men, armed with clubs and pieces of metal, gathered at City Hall to confront election officials over a vote for the Member of Parliament here in Jinja. The streets were lined with soldiers and armed military vehicles in the event that violence broke out.  The demonstrators were claiming they were ready to give up their lives to  help stop voting corruption.

Many continue to pray that no one will tip the building tension over into a civil war ... whether a leader or supporter.  But, things do not seem to be as stable as expected before Election Day.

I am writing this blog at 4:30 in the morning on Saturday.  I discovered that we can now connect to the Internet, but the use of social media is still being blocked.  There is a small amount of urgency within me to communicate with family, friends, and supporters of our efforts here in Uganda ... while I have the opportunity.

Though our faith is high and we have no fear, I think I've advanced a bit beyond being simply curious about the reaction of the voters in Kampala and Jinja (the second largest city in the nation) when the official results are announced ... supposedly today.  After the sun disappeared in the west last night I found myself listening for the sound of gun fire from the center of the city.

I also found I had a sense of relief once I was able to get online ... but, there is no guarantee that privilege will last.

Earlier I posted a blog that had been resting on my computer until I could access YouTube to post the video Ezra produced for the Oklahoma Medical Team.  To view it, click HERE.  I have other great stories to write about as well.  But, first, let me post this update on the stability of the nation of Uganda as the election day results are forthcoming.

I do NOT currently have the ability to post these blogs on Facebook, but if you are so inclined, perhaps you may post the last three for me.  That will give these posts a wider viewing.

1 comment:

  1. I just read your blog. I am concerned for a friend of mine named Sonko "Donsonko' Joel. I have been communicating with him and he told me the elections could get 'rough'.


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