Uganda's lesson to other authoritarians: controlling the internet works

Security forces are seen blocking the entrance to Ugandan opposition leader Bobi Wine's property on January 16, 2021 in Kampala, Uganda.

James Griffiths is a Senior Producer for CNN International and author of "The Great Firewall of China: How to Build and Control an Alternative Version of the Internet."

Hong Kong (CNN)Speaking to reporters after casting her ballot in the Ugandan capital Kampala last week, one local resident was overjoyed to have voted for opposition leader Bobi Wine.

"The only sad thing ... is that we are missing the communication because some lines have been cut off. We don't have internet so we are lacking communication," she said. "Outside Kampala, we don't know what is going on."
What was going on, according to Wine and other opposition figures, was the election being stolen.
    Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni claimed Saturday that he had been re-elected for a sixth term, despite widespread allegations of fraud and intimidation. In power since 1986, Museveni has defied repeated attempts to remove him over the years, cracking down on protests and jailing potential rivals.
    In recent elections, a key tactic in curtailing opposition has been to control Ugandans' access to the internet, blocking social media and messaging software like WhatsApp, and even instituting countrywide internet blackouts, cutting the population off from information at the most vital time.