Uganda’s Minister of State for Information and Communication Technology, has confirmed the full restoration of internet services across the country since January 14.
The measure was imposed hours to the opening of polls in keenly contested general elections last month.
“Internet and Social media services have been fully restored. We apologize for the inconveniences caused, but it was for the security of our country. Let’s be constructive, NOT destructive consumers/users of social media,” Minister Peter Ogwang wrote on Twitter.
Internet rights groups and activists condemned the government directive that was issued through the Uganda Communications Commission.
The UCC ordered a service blackout until further notice. In its letter on the suspension, the agency failed to give reasons for its decision.
Most users, however, were able to bypass the block to access sites such as Facebook and Twitter via VPN (virtual private network).
President Yoweri Museveni said restrictions on social media sites were enforced after a number of supporters of the National Resistance Movement, the country’s ruling party, were blocked from accessing their accounts by Facebook.
While delivering a pre-election address, the President said Facebook refused to heed appeals by the government to unblock his supporters’ accounts.
“Why would anybody do that? When I heard about that, I told our people to warn them…That social channel you are talking about, if it’s operating in Uganda, it should be used equitably by everybody who wants to use it.
“If you want to take sides against the NRM, then that group will not operate in Uganda. Uganda is ours, it’s not anybody’s…And I am sure government has closed the social media.”
Facebook had in a statement said it shut a number of accounts belonging to Ugandan State officials accused of seeking to manipulate public debate ahead of the elections.
Uganda has been accused of suppressing freedom of expression, as well as cracking down on opposition figures including Bobi Wine.