Facebook has taken down several accounts linked to the government of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, saying they were being used to manipulate public opinion ahead of this week’s presidential election.
The U.S.-based social media giant said Monday it linked the network of accounts to the Uganda’s Ministry of Information and Communications Technology.
Facebook said the ministry “used fake and duplicate accounts to manage pages, comment on other people’s content, impersonate users, re-share posts in groups to make them appear more popular than they were.”
The Associated Press quoted presidential spokesman Don Wanyama as saying Facebook was “interfering in the electoral process of Uganda.” He also said, “If people wanted to have the evidence of outside interference, now they have it.”
Voters in the East African country will cast ballots Thursday in a general election that pits President Museveni against 10 challengers, including popular singer-turned-legislator Bobi Wine.
The lead-up to the vote has been marred by increasing violence, numerous human rights violations, and restrictions imposed on opposition candidates and supporters.
The arrests and detentions in November of Wine and Patrick Oboi Amuriat, another presidential candidate, as well as other members of the political opposition, triggered riots and protests. At least 54 people were killed.