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Uganda Elections: Voting starts late in some stations, social media blocked

The head of Uganda’s media regulator, Godfrey Mutabazi, said the social media block was introduced after a request from the electoral commission. Uganda’s leading mobile operator MTN, which has 10 million users, confirmed that it had received an order to shut down social media services. The election was also marred by delays of up to five hours at some polling stations.



Many voters in the capital Kampala and neighbouring Wakiso District shared their dismay at the late delivery of election materials in today’s presidential and parliamentary elections.

There were also last minute changes to assigned polling stations, with some voters being moved to other stations. Confirmation of polling station through the campaign period has been through texting one’s National ID Number to a specific number, or using the Electoral Commission website- which went down due to high traffic.


As many voters lined up in the morning to vote, there were no ballot papers at many stations. According to social media accounts from various polling stations, this appears to be mostly in the Kampala and Wakiso areas, which are also opposition strongholds. In other parts of Uganda, voting appears to have started as expected.

There was no communication to people waiting at these stations, and as conspiracy theories and tension spread, the Chairman of the Electoral Commission Badru Kiggundu simply said that there had been delays in delivery of polling materials.


Some voters gave up, but many did not as they all waited in the scorching sun for the ballot boxes to arrive.
Meanwhile, it appeared that the Uganda Communications Commission had asked telecommunications companies to shut down social media services for 24 hours.


Some Ugandans on social media shared different ways of navigating around the social media ban.

The recently passed electoral laws, Presidential Elections Amendment Act 2015 and Parliamentary Elections Amendment Act 2015, dictate that all polling stations be closed at 4p.m today. With some polling stations only starting the process late, some at 12noon, there are questions on whether the deadline will be extended at affected stations.