As Ugandans head to the polls on Friday, we can expect two outcomes. First, President Yoweri Museveni will likely defeat his challenger, Kizza Besigye, and extend his 25 year rule. Afrobarometer’s recent opinion polling in Uganda has Museveni leading Besigye 65 to 15 percent, respectively. The recent survey also demonstrates the National Resistance Movement’s intimidation ahead of the vote: over 80 percent of the 2,000 respondents in the poll admit that NRM members offered them bribes.
Second, and more relevant to the recent uprisings in the Middle East, Ugandans will have limited SMS texting capabilities ahead of Friday’s poll. Recent reports indicate that the Ugandan Communications Commission (UCC) will block texts containing terms related to the recent street protests in the Middle East, including: "Tunisia," "Mubarak, "dictator," "teargas," "army," "police," "gun," "Ben Ali," “Egypt,” “Bullet,” and “People power.” SMSs have been used to foment electoral strife elsewhere in East Africa; namely, during the 2007-2008 post-election violence in Kenya that left at least 1,300 dead and 650,000 displaced. The UCC’s ultimate goal is not entirely clear. Nonetheless, the partial SMS ban is a development to watch given the numerous upcoming elections on the continent and the continued unrest in the Middle East.