As Ugandans start casting their votes, South Sudanese living in Kampala and other parts of the country expressed fear of possible violence if election results turn against people’s choice.
Polling stations opened this morning for over 18 million registered voters to elected their leaders.
In today’s election, a pop star and opposition leader Robert Kyagulanyi better known as Bobi Wine, is challenging the longtime President Yoweri Museveni, with other nine Presidential candidates.
Rev. Stephen Kulang Jiech, a South Sudanese Church leader who lived in Kampala said, foreign nationals are indoors waiting for the result of the election.
He hopes the election will be free and fair to avoid violence among the Ugandans.
“Now we are at home, and we don’t know what is going on in the polling stations unless at the midday because they closed all the media, there is no Facebook, there is no internet.”
Uganda has hosted 1 million South Sudanese refugees, the vast majority of them women and children.
Nyumazi Refugee Camp chairman, Nyang Aluel Akuei, said the situation is normal, citing that refugees are not worried.
“As elections start this morning, people at my settlement wake up as usual, and we started our normal activities. Our shops are open. People are moving within the settlement. I’m not seeing anything that is causing an alarm”.
Nyang stated that no refugee is allowed to move out of the settlement to neighboring towns. The camp chairman calls upon the government of South Sudan to engage their counterpart to avoid any disturbance.
“In case of any disappointments or dissatisfaction from the outcome of elections, we as refugees want to stay in our settlement. We don’t want the nationals to come to a settlement and begin disturbing us because some people will be disappointed,” said Aluel.
South Sudanese youth member living in Uganda said he is disappointed with the internet shutdown in Uganda.
Kur Abraham describes the lack of internet connection as a bad sign, and people will be missed out on the information.
“We are not connected to the internet or social media because all Data is not working countrywide, I think. I’m having a lot of things to do online. Since Data is not there, I’m not feeling well because I’m missing a lot. Not about the elections, but my things and my studies.”
In Kampala, South Sudan’s embassy warned its citizens to stay indoors from 14th -21 January. Amb Simon Duku encouraged South Sudanese to buy enough phone credits to call the embassy in security threats.
The embassy instructed its citizens to move with valid national ID 24/7 or only a valid passport. Avoid wearing clothes with colors representing political parties like yellow and red during this election process and NEVER move in a group.
On Tuesday, Uganda’s communications regulator ordered internet providers to block all social media platforms, followed by a total internet showdown yesterday.
Facebook and Twitter were among apps that became inaccessible on several network providers in the country.
Facebook announced on Monday it had taken down a network of fake and duplicate accounts linked to the country’s information ministry.
On Wednesday, the US and EU said they would not observe the elections after several officials were denied accreditation.