Kampala- Kenya’s National Super Alliance presidential candidate, Mr Raila Odinga, says Kenya should not emulate Uganda to shut down communications on Election Day.
Mr Odinga’s remark follow a statement attributed to National Cohesion and Integration Commission Chairperson Francis ole Kaparo that Kenya could shutdown social networking sites to check hate speech.
Kenya will have a General Election on August 8.
There are fears the polls could turn violent should either Mr Odinga or President Uhuru Kenyatta refuse to concede defeat.
“I met Kaparo… he said he has no intention nor does he have the capability to shut off communication systems,” Mr Odinga told journalists on Thursday, in Nairobi. The event was relayed via periscope. “So I told him this [Kenya] is not Uganda. Remember, Uganda shut off communications during polling day.”
Mr Odinga said whatever scheme Kenya’s authorities are up to, ‘everything is being done with the advice of their counterparts from elsewhere’.
The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) in February 2016 shut down social networking sites, commonly referred to as social media, claiming some users were abusing them.
UCC’s action came on the heels of statements attributed to President Museveni to the effect that there were people who wanted to cause trouble and such people had to be stopped.
Following the shutdown, some Ugandans who had Smartphones downloaded Virtual Private Networks (VPN), a software application and accessed social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp and communicated easily.
Before indefinitely postponing its general election last year, the Democratic Republic of Congo had toyed with the idea of shutting down social networking sites.
Social networks, in areas where access to the Internet is assured, make it easy to mobilise people to a cause, something that irritates autocratic leaders and their cronies.
Mr Odinga’s contemptuous remark about Uganda is not the first a foreigner has made.
The British Broadcasting Corporation reported in June 2012 that Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy sent a text to his finance minister saying: “We’re the number four power in Europe. Spain is not Uganda.”
According to the broadcaster, the text message was sent during negotiations on the terms of a bailout for Spain’s banks and that the prime minister was urging the minister to hold out for a good deal.
The remark caused a storm in Uganda with some people tweeting to defend Uganda’s economic success.