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Uganda - Government


THE CENTRAL QUESTION facing Uganda after the National Resistance Movement (NRM) led by Yoweri Kaguta Museveni came to power in January 1986 was whether or not this new government could break the cycle of insecurity and decay that had afflicted the country since independence in 1962. Each new government had made that goal more difficult to achieve. Despite Ugandans' hopes for improvement after the war that ended President Idi Amin Dada's rule in April 1979, national political and economic difficulties worsened in the seven years that followed. A new guerrilla war began in 1981. The National Resistance Army (NRA), military wing of the NRM, seized Kampala and control of the national government in January 1986. The NRM pledged it would establish legitimate and effective political institutions within the next four years. It failed to achieve this goal, however, partly because new civil wars broke out in the north and the east, and in October 1989 the NRM extended its interim rule until 1995.

Few of the basic political questions that confronted Uganda at independence had been settled when the NRM seized power in 1986. Under protectorate rule after 1894, Uganda's various regions had developed along different paths and at different rates. As a result, at independence the most politically divisive issue was the difference in accumulated wealth among these regions. Political tensions centered around the relatively wealthy region of Buganda, which also formed the most cohesive political unit in Uganda, and its relationship to the rest of the country. Adding to these tensions by the late 1960s, northern military domination had been abruptly translated into political domination. Moreover, some political leaders represented the interests of Protestant church organizations in a country that had a Catholic majority and a small but growing Islamic minority. Ugandan officials increasingly harassed citizens, often for their own economic gain, while imprisonment, torture, and violence, although universally deplored as a means of settling political disputes, had become commonplace. All of these factors contributed to political fragmentation.

The NRM government promised fundamental change to establish peace and democracy, to rebuild the economy, and, above all, to end military indiscipline. The new government's political manifesto, the Ten-Point Program, written during the guerrilla war of the 1980s, traced Uganda's problems to the fact that previous political leaders had relied on ethnicity and religion in decision making at the expense of development concerns. The Ten-Point Program argued that resolving these problems required the creation of grass-roots democracy, a politically educated army and police force, and greater national economic independence. It also insisted that the success of Uganda's new political institutions would depend on public servants who would forego self-enrichment at the nation's expense. Political education would be provided to explain the reasons for altering institutions and policies Uganda had used since independence. The new institutions and policies which the NRM announced it intended to put in their place involved drastic changes from the practices of earlier regimes.

At the time that the NRA seized power, however, its organizational life had been brief, its personnel were few, and its political base was narrow. It had few resources to achieve its ambitious proposals for reform. The NRA had been formed in 1981, but its political wing, the NRM, had not been organized as a government until 1985. And because the NRA had been confined primarily to Buganda and western Uganda when it ousted the northern-based Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA), many Ugandans believed it had simply substituted southern political control for northern domination. Separate civil wars resumed in the north and east only a few months later, and many people in those areas remained deeply skeptical about NRM promises.

In addition, as soon as it came to power, the NRM implemented the policy of broad-based government that Museveni had adopted during the guerrilla war. He appointed leaders of rival political parties and armies to high-level military and cabinet offices. These new leaders generally did not share the NRM's approach to reforms, however. Furthermore, as a government, the NRM had to rely on existing state institutions, particularly government ministries, local administrative offices, and the court system. Government procedures had enjoined public servants working within these institutions from any political activity. Many officials were neither sympathetic to the objectives of the NRM nor convinced that political education for public servants was a legitimate means to accomplish those goals. As a result, Museveni's government was partly led and predominantly staffed by officials who preferred to restore the policies pursued by the Ugandan government in the 1960s. They shared power with a few NRM officials who were committed to radical changes.

Nonetheless, NRM leaders made the most important policy decisions in the regime's first four years, relying on the wave of popular support that accompanied their rise to power and their control over the national army. They introduced several new political bodies, including an inner circle of NRM and NRA officials who had risen to leadership positions during the guerrilla war, a hierarchy of popular assemblies known as resistance councils (RCs), the NRM secretariat, and schools for political education. But the NRM had too few trained cadres or detailed plans to implement the Ten-Point Program during this period. As Museveni himself conceded, the NRM came to power before it was ready to govern.

For these reasons--lack of a nationwide political base, creation of a broad-based government, the absence of sufficient trained cadres of its own, and the necessity of relying on existing government ministries--the new government's leaders chose a path of compromise, blending ideas they had developed during the guerrilla war with existing government institutions on a pragmatic, ad-hoc, day-to-day basis. As a result, during its first four years, the government maintained an uneasy and ambiguous reliance on both old and new procedures and policies. And it was often difficult to determine which official in the government, the NRM, or the NRA possessed either formal or actual responsibility for a particular policy decision.

New civil wars and ill-chosen economic policies diverted the government's energies from many of its ambitious political and economic reforms, but others were begun. In frequent public statements, Museveni returned to the basic themes of the TenPoint Program, indicating that they had not been abandoned.





The context in which the NRM's political program was written helps to explain the importance that Museveni and other government leaders who were involved in the guerrilla struggle attached to it. During the interim period after the fall of Amin in April 1979, several small political groups maneuvered to shape the rules for the national parliamentary elections that were held in December 1980. Only a few months before the elections, the decision was made to require candidates to run as representatives of parties rather than as individuals. In response, Museveni and other progressives formed a new party, the Uganda People's Movement (UPM), which chose Museveni as its leader. The party nominated candidates in most constituencies, but won only one seat. Museveni ran a close third in Mbarara North constituency.

Following widespread allegations that Milton Obote's Uganda People's Congress (UPC) had manipulated the electoral results to deprive the Democratic Party (DP) of victory, Museveni and a few followers went underground in Luwero District in February 1981, organized the Popular Resistance Army (PRA), and, along with other small bands of fighters, started a guerrilla war. A year later, the PRA broadened its base by negotiating a merger with Yusuf Lule, the first president of Uganda after the fall of Amin, and incorporating the guerrillas Lule had recruited. The new organization was named the NRA; Lule became chair and Museveni became deputy chair and army commander. This arrangement enabled Museveni to recruit and train Baganda men and women to fight for the NRA, even though he was a Muhima from Mbarara District. When Lule died in 1985, Museveni became chair of the NRA.

Until April 1985, the war was fought exclusively in Buganda, primarily in the Luwero Triangle (named for the area included within the roads between Kampala, Hoima, and Masindi) to oust the UPC government headed by Milton Obote. The NRA then left Buganda to open a second front in the west and occupied the entire region following the July 1985 coup d'état in which General Tito Lutwa Okello replaced Milton Obote as head of state. Museveni's NRA undertook a program of political education following classic guerrilla tactics Museveni had learned fifteen years earlier from the liberation movement in Mozambique. NRA soldiers were taught the reasons for their struggle, to respect the villagers among whom they lived, and to pay for food and goods they needed. A political infrastructure to support the NRA was organized through secret, although democratically elected, RCs in villages in Luwero District. The Ten-Point Program, written during the guerrilla campaign, reflects the principles with which the NRA created a disciplined army, organized popular support through RCs, and, in particular, developed a coherent political and economic explanation of why the NRA was fighting against the Ugandan government.

The Ten-Point Program argued that postindependence Ugandan political rulers had greatly exacerbated the problems of economic distortion introduced by British colonial rule. The solution to these problems required a new political and economic strategy that contained ten points. First, real democracy had to be organized at all levels from the village up by elections to "people's committees," by elections to parliament, and on the basis of a decent standard of living so that ordinary people could resist the blandishments of unprincipled politicians. Second, because insecurity in Uganda had been largely the result of "state-inspired violence," it could be eliminated through local democracy, "a politicized army and police, and absence of corruption at the top." Third, national unity could be consolidated by eliminating sectarianism--that is, through the removal of politics based on religious, linguistic, and ethnic factional issues. Fourth, it was possible to stop the interference of foreign interests in Uganda's domestic concerns since independence, but only if the Ugandan leadership developed independent priorities based on Ugandan interests. Fifth, the most important protection for these interests was to construct an independent, integrated, and self-sustaining national economy that would stop the leakage of Uganda's wealth abroad.

Beyond these goals of the new political strategy were practical steps for achieving these goals. The sixth of the ten points was that basic social services--clean water, health dispensaries, literacy, and housing--had to be restored, particularly in the areas ravaged by the wars that ended the regimes of Amin and Obote. Seventh, because corruption, particularly in the public service, reinforced basic economic distortions, the government had to eliminate it in order to attack economic distortions effectively. Eighth, the problems of victims of past governments should be resolved: land should be returned to thousands of people displaced by mistaken development projects and land seizures; the Karamojong should be settled by providing adequate water; and workers and public servants should receive salaries that would allow them to meet the cost of living. Ninth, Uganda should seek cooperation with other African countries, particularly its neighbors, in order to create larger markets and a more rational use of resources. Nevertheless, Uganda should also defend democratic and human rights of African people against dictators who suppressed them. Finally, Uganda should maintain a mixed economy--combining both capitalist and socialist methods-- with small businesses in the hands of private entrepreneurs, and with import-export licensing, monetary policy, ownership of heavy industry, and construction of schools and hospitals under the control of the state.

This analysis of Uganda's problems differed substantially from the general approach taken by previous Ugandan governments. It called for new patterns of organization of Uganda's political economy instead of rehabilitation and restoration of political and economic life as it had existed in the 1960s. Whereas politicians and civil servants from the former regimes had believed the problem was to remove corrupt and ineffectual personnel, the Ten-Point Program called for new structures based on popular control and political education. It claimed that if ordinary citizens understood the basic causes for Uganda's political and economic decay, they would support these basic reforms.

NRM and NRA officials chose to emphasize political education through mass meetings during the latter half of 1985, when, for the first time, they were in open and unchallenged control of part of Uganda. Special district administrators (DAs) were appointed as the most authoritative representatives of the NRM in each district. The largest proportion of their time was spent traveling to villages to explain why ordinary people should become directly involved in politics on the basis of their own economic problems, rather than through the sectarian attachments on which the established political parties were based. Discipline for soldiers who violated the rights of citizens was carried out in front of people in soccer stadiums. A strong change-oriented and populist flavor marked this first effort of the NRM to introduce the TenPoint Program. But the situation changed significantly when the NRM administration was established in Kampala and became responsible for the government.




Uganda has adopted three constitutions since independence. The first was promulgated in 1962 and attempted a quasi-federal arrangement, granting various degrees of autonomy to different local governments established during the protectorate. Of the four kingdoms it recognized, only Buganda received significant federal powers allowing it to raise its own tax revenues, pass laws on specified subjects, enjoy entrenched protection for land tenure and its local courts, and even control through its local legislature the election of the kingdom's representatives to the national parliament. The other three kingdoms--Ankole, Toro, and Bunyoro--and the district of Busoga became "federal states" with fewer powers. The remaining districts, with the exception of Karamoja, retained sufficient autonomy to elect their own councils and pass laws on specified topics but were otherwise governed directly by the national authorities. Because it was the least developed part of the country, Karamoja became a "special district" under central government control.

Nonfederal districts were permitted to elect constitutional heads, who occupied a position equivalent to that of the kings in Buganda, Bunyoro, Toro, and Ankole. The central government held no power to alter the constitutions or form of government in Buganda or the federal states. This complex distribution of powers increased local competition among districts and thus strengthened the bases of power of local leaders. After four years of independence, a struggle for power among local leaders seriously weakened the position of then Prime Minister Milton Obote. He responded by suspending the 1962 constitution in April 1966.

At the same time and with a show of military force, Obote ordered members of parliament (MPs) to pass the 1966 constitution without debate. Though understood to be merely an interim constitution, it made sweeping changes that removed all federal provisions in favor of a centralized government. Buganda, the three federal states, and the non-federal districts lost their autonomy; Buganda lost its right to elect its MPs indirectly; and the king of Buganda (the kabaka) lost his privileged status. At the national level, the prime minister became an executive president, in place of the preceding ceremonial president. These arrangements strengthened Obote's precarious hold on government while appearing to respect the rule of law. Obote became president in place of the king of Buganda, who had been elected to the position under the 1962 constitution.

A year later, a draft version of the 1967 constitution was introduced in parliament and debated at length. When it was passed three months later, it completed the process of centralization begun the previous year. The 1967 constitution confirmed the president's position as the chief executive. It also continued to sanction multiparty political competition. Each political party had the right to nominate a candidate for president from among its candidates for parliament. Each parliamentary candidate had to declare which candidate for president he or she supported. The elected members of parliament then elected the president. The constitution defined parliament to include members of the National Assembly and the president and made it impossible for MPs to pass a law without the concurrence of the president. The president could also dismiss the National Assembly and legislate by decree in its absence. The 1967 constitution also took the fateful step of abolishing the kings, the kingdoms, and the constitutional heads of the districts. In the case of Buganda, Obote went even further by dividing it into four districts, thus removing official recognition of its cultural unity. Parliament received the authority to change the form of district councils and to allow council members to be appointed rather than elected. The 1967 constitution also empowered the government to employ preventive detention during states of emergency, or as the government deemed necessary.

The 1967 constitution provided for citizenship on the basis of birth in Uganda to a parent (or grandparent) who was a citizen or birth outside Uganda to a father who was a citizen. It also recognized citizenship acquired prior to this constitution, and it gave the right to register for citizenship to women married to Ugandan citizens. According to the 1967 constitution, Ugandan nationals holding dual citizenship who failed to renounce their other citizenship would lose their Ugandan citizenship. The most important purpose of these provisions was to deprive Indians whose applications for Ugandan citizenship had not been approved by 1967, and those who had dual citizenship, of any claim to be Ugandan nationals, and thus it allowed the government to treat them as non-nationals. Citizenship was also the basic criterion for the right to vote, although a voter also had to be twenty-one and a resident in Uganda for six months.

Upon coming to power in January 1986, the NRM government issued a proclamation accepting the authority of the 1967 constitution but suspending portions that granted executive and legislative powers to the president and parliament. Citizenship, most fundamental rights, and government procedures continued on the basis of the 1967 document. With regard to executive and legislative powers, however, the NRM government declared that the National Resistance Council (NRC) "shall have supreme authority of the Government," including the power to pass laws and to choose the national president. Members of the NRC included the chair, representatives of the NRM, and representatives of the NRA. However, the 1986 proclamation noted that the NRC would be increased "from time to time" by adding members from other "political forces" and districts. In addition, the NRC was enjoined "to seek the views of the National Resistance Army Council (NRAC) "on all matters the National Resistance Council considers important." Finally, the proclamation declared the NRM regime an "interim government" to "hold office for a period not exceeding four years."

For the first time in Uganda's history, the national army acquired constitutional standing in the legislative process by virtue of the requirement in the 1986 proclamation that the NRC had to consult the NRAC on any matter the NRC thought important. In 1989 amendments to the original proclamation expanded this principle by declaring that both the NRC and the NRAC "shall participate in the discussion, adoption, and promulgation of the Constitution." These amendments also gave the NRC and NRAC the power to "assemble together and jointly elect or remove the President from office," or "approve a declaration of a state of emergency or insurgency." The effect of the changes in the 1967 constitution created by the 1986 proclamation, and reinforced by the 1989 amendments, was to give the NRM--although only for a four-year period--a monopoly of constitutional authority, even while it brought members of other political forces into the government.

In October 1989, the NRC extended the interim period for five more years until January 1995 in order to allow time to draft, debate, and adopt a permanent constitution, and to complete the political, economic, and rehabilitation programs that had been interrupted by the civil wars in the north and east. Thus, by the end of 1989, the membership of the NRC had been greatly expanded beyond the trusted followers of the NRM and NRA. The government retained the authority to legislate its own program over the objections of any other political forces and extended that authority for an additional five years.

The NRM government had also declared its intention to introduce a new constitution democratically. In November 1988, the NRC passed the Constitutional Commission Act of 1988, which established a body to hear public testimony and draft a new constitution. The government also set guidelines, or minimum requirements, for the commission that included guarantees of fundamental individual rights; separation of the three powers of government, with checks and balances among them; an independent judiciary; a democratic, free, and fair electoral system; and popular accountability. These guidelines conformed to conventional constitutional virtues, though the separation of powers and the imposition of checks and balances represented a change from the notion of parliamentary supremacy in the British Westminster tradition as well as in the original NRM proclamation of 1986.

The guidelines for the constitutional commission did not suggest the creation of a vanguard organization made up of NRM figures who had waged the guerrilla struggle, nor the continuation of a political role for the army. They were also silent on the question of a single or multiparty system. Many Ugandans believed the old political parties would be likely to regain power in a multiparty system. Consequently, they suspected the NRM would need the shelter of a single party, or a ban on all parties, to remain the government after elections were held. Furthermore, the guidelines did not suggest how members of the constitutional commission would eliminate sectarian politics or ensure the achievement of the strategy for an independent self- sustaining economy proposed in the Ten-Point Program. In May 1989, the newly appointed head of the commission announced that it would be two years before the draft was ready to be debated by the Constituent Assembly. The process of hearing public testimony began a few months later.




By the end of 1989, Uganda was in the middle of a transition period in which the structure of government was being defined. President Museveni served as head of state, head of the military, and chair of the highest legislative body, the NRC. Below the NRC was a hierarchy of district, county, subcounty, parish, and village RCs, each with decision-making authority in that area. RC members at each level were elected by RC members at the next lower level. Uganda had also developed a complex hierarchy of courts under British rule, supplemented by Islamic and customary institutions for resolving disputes.

The Executive

Under the 1986 proclamation, the president became head of the executive branch (head of state) with the power to appoint a cabinet of ministers with NRC approval. He was also empowered, again with the approval of the NRC, to appoint a prime minister to conduct the business of government. Provisions of the 1967 constitution continuing in force authorized the president to organize the ministries of the public service. Ministers took responsibility for the implementation of government policy. A permanent secretary took responsibility for the organization and operation of each ministry. In addition, the president appointed an inspector general of police, an auditor general, and a director of public prosecutions. The president, or a person he authorized, made treaties and agreements between Uganda and other countries and international organizations. Among the chapters of the 1967 constitution that were suspended was the provision specifying a five-year term for the president, but the 1986 proclamation did not clearly spell out a new term. Presumably, the president served until dismissed by the NRC (the NRC made this appointment) or until the end of the interim period of the NRM government. The power of the NRC, acting in concert with the NRAC, to dismiss the president was made explicit in the February 1989 amendments to the original proclamation.

The NRM consistently followed the principle of broad-based government from its days of guerrilla warfare through its first four years in power. NRM leaders viewed this principle as an NRM reform intended to reverse political disorder by inviting opponents of the government to share power, instead of following the previous practice of monopolizing power in the hands of the victors. The NRM's commitment to broad-based government was most clearly demonstrated in its first cabinet appointments. By reaching outside its own ranks for appointments at the highest levels, the NRM acknowledged the importance of this principle for national reconciliation. Because the leadership of the NRM consisted predominantly of new and untested political figures who originated primarily from the southern part of the country, these appointments reassured many Ugandans that the NRM did not intend to monopolize high government positions. Dr. Samson Kisekka, a senior associate of former President Yusuf Lule who had joined the NRM when Museveni and Lule merged their movements, became prime minister. An older Muganda politician and medical doctor, Kisekka held more conservative views than Museveni and thus reassured many Baganda that the NRM would not make too many radical changes.

The number of members of the DP in Museveni's first cabinet surprised many observers because the DP had participated in the Okello government, which the NRA had overthrown. The DP had been formed in 1954 and had briefly formed the national government just before independence. The DP had also become the official opposition when the UPC claimed victory following the 1980 elections, although most observers believed the DP had actually won the elections. DP leaders did not serve in government until the party president, Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere, became minister of internal affairs following the July 1985 coup d'état that removed the UPC government. Under the first NRM government, not only did Ssemogerere continue at internal affairs, but the significant portfolios of finance; agriculture, animal husbandry, and fisheries; commerce; and justice were given to DP politicians as well. The leader of the Conservative Party, Joshua MayangaNkangi , who had been the last prime minister of Buganda (in 1966) and whose party stood for the return of the Buganda monarchy, was appointed minister of education. The president took the defense portfolio and appointed an NRM official as minister of foreign affairs, but in general, NRM leaders were given responsibility for less important ministries or became deputy ministers in more critical ministries.

Additional cabinet members were recruited through negotiations with other guerrilla groups, after the president stated that he was willing to promote peace by merging rivals into his government through negotiation, instead of fighting with them. Museveni's first cabinet contained several such leaders who had switched sides shortly before the NRA took power. Dr. Andrew Kayiira and Dr. David Lwanga, leaders of other guerrilla groups who had opposed Obote, were appointed to the energy and environmental protection ministries, respectively. In July 1986, Moses Ali, leader of a faction of the Uganda National Rescue Front (UNRF) made up of soldiers originally from Amin's army, became minister of tourism and wildlife. Ali had been Amin's minister of finance, so this was a significant expansion of the principle of broad-based government. By narrowing the government's definition of "political criminals" it intended to prosecute, the appointment was a further step toward national reconciliation. The principle of broad-based government also led Museveni to expand the size of his cabinet. Between 1986 and 1990, the number of ministers, ministers of state, and deputy ministers grew from thirty-three to seventy-two, including three deputy prime ministers added to the cabinet in April 1989. By this time, a greater proportion of appointments to key ministries came from NRM and NRA ranks.

The commitment to broad-based government in the cabinet had two important consequences for policy making. First, bringing opponents of the NRM into the highest levels of government diluted the policy approach provided in the Ten-Point Program. Second, introducing different perspectives into the cabinet led to sudden and unexpected reversals in policy. The most dramatic example of both points was the change in the government's position regarding the conditions of structural adjustment required by the International Monetary Fund ( IMF) in return for foreign loans. At first, Museveni and his advisers who had engaged in the guerrilla struggle rejected the IMF as a source of funds because they believed it would force Uganda to become more dependent on foreign capitalist institutions, while the Ten-Point Program called for the creation of an independent economy. Nevertheless, the government's first budget in May 1986 resembled orthodox IMF strategy, particularly by sharply devaluing the Uganda shilling ( USh) and restricting spending. In response, opponents of structural adjustment were able to persuade the cabinet to approve an antiIMF budget only three months later. This version revalued the shilling and greatly expanded spending beyond the revenue base. Then in May 1987, the government, faced with dizzying inflation, reversed itself again and signed an agreement with the IMF. Once again the shilling was greatly devalued and government spending was cut.

<"57.htm"> The National Resistance Council
<"58.htm"> Local Administration
<"59.htm"> Judicial System
<"60.htm"> Elections


Uganda - The National Resistance Council


Since independence Uganda's governments have been ambivalent about the principle of parliamentary supremacy. Subscribing at first to the British model of government, the 1962 constitution made the prime minister and the cabinet collectively responsible to the parliament. The 1967 constitution provided for a far more powerful executive president while continuing to pay lip service to the principle of parliamentary supremacy. Following Idi Amin's graphic demonstration of the dangers of a chief executive who ignores the rule of law, the Moshi Declaration, which created the Uganda National Liberation Front (UNLF) government in 1979 to replace Amin, put supreme power in its parliament. The 1967 constitution was restored by the UPC when it returned to power in December 1980. In its 1986 proclamation, the NRM government once again placed the supreme authority of government in the NRC, the parliament it had created during the war. But despite its formal importance, the NRC met rarely for the first year of NRM rule and played an insignificant role in directing the government. For example, it did not even debate the budget of May 1986 (although it did debate the August 1986 revision).

At the time the NRM government seized power, the thirty-eight leading cadres in the NRA and the NRM formed the membership of the NRC by virtue of service, not elections. For the first year, they continued to be the only members of the NRC. Meanwhile, applying the principle of broad-based government meant that most senior ministers were appointed from outside the ranks of the NRM. Governance became particularly awkward for two reasons. First, the cabinet, rather than the NRC, was taking most policy initiatives. Second, cabinet members were excluded from the supreme authority of government. The situation was rectified by expanding the NRC in April 1987 to include all ministers and their deputies, enlarging the NRC to more than seventy members. Then as the ranks of ministerial appointments grew in response to negotiations with more opponents of the government, the NRC automatically expanded as well. After that, the NRC met more frequently but often failed to achieve a quorum because so many of its members had official obligations elsewhere. Frustrated by low attendance over the following year, Haji Moses Kigongo, vice chair of the NRM and chair at most of the NRC meetings, warned in May 1988 that he would suspend members who missed three consecutive meetings. The next day only fifteen members showed up, and that session, too, was canceled for lack of a quorum. On occasion the NRC managed to hold meetings with lively debates and passed legislation in many areas, but few Ugandans would have described it as the nerve center of the government.

In February 1989, new legislation recognized the appointments of the original thirty-eight members of the NRC and provided for the enlargement of the NRC through the election and appointment of additional members. Each county and each district would elect one representative (only women could be candidates for district representative). In addition, one or more of the representatives would be elected by municipalities, depending upon the size of their populations. Provision also was made for five representatives elected by a youth organization and three elected by a workers organization. (But the act did not make clear whether the organizations whose members would comprise the electorate would be existing youth and worker organizations or new ones.) The legislation providing for the elections also created thirty new appointed representatives to the NRC, twenty appointed by the president and ten by the NRAC from the ranks of NRA officers.

Thus, in response to widespread criticism that the 1967 constitution had given too much power to the president, the NRM put supreme power entirely in the hands of the new parliament but limited its membership at first to its own trusted followers. The original parliamentary representatives were legitimized by their participation in the guerrilla struggle, not by elections. Though political figures who had not been part of the NRM or NRA during the war were later appointed to the NRC and in 1989 elected to it, the original NRC members continued to occupy a privileged position. They did not have to stand for election to the NRC. In addition, their special status was formalized in February 1989 with the creation of the National Executive Committee (NEC), a standing committee of the NRC, to contain these original members plus one elected member from each district and ten members appointed by the chair of the NRC from among its members. Because the purposes of the NEC were to "determine the policies and political direction" of the NRM and "monitor and oversee the general performance of the Government," it acquired both a formal vanguard role within the NRC and a powerful position to set the political agenda. But in 1990, it remained unclear whether the NEC would exercise this power to press for the implementation of the Ten-Point Program.


Uganda - Local Administration


In the early protectorate period, the district commissioner (DC), the representative of the governor, was the most important government official in each district. Before the kingdoms were abolished in 1967, each one had a local government made up of chiefs, who reported to the king, and a central government official who was an adviser to the king. The 1919 Native Authority Ordinance gave the DC responsibility for a hierarchy of appointed chiefs at village, parish, subcounty, and county levels. Councils, originally consisting of these chiefs, were created during the 1930s at each level. After 1949 local administration in Uganda was shared by central and district government officials. The Local Government Ordinance of 1949 established the district as a local government area and as the basis for a separate district administration. During the 1950s, elections to district councils were introduced, and the councils were given responsibility for district administration. Nevertheless, the central government retained the power to control most district council decisions. Chiefs were salaried local government officials but responsible to the central government through the DC for the proper administration of their areas.

At independence Uganda consisted of ten districts, four kingdoms, and one special district (Karamoja). The 1967 constitution abolished the kingdoms and made them districts as well. Because the kingdom of Buganda was separated into four districts, the country was thus divided into eighteen districts. In 1974 President Amin further increased the number of districts to thirty-eight and grouped them into ten provinces. In 1979 after Amin was overthrown, the number of districts was reduced to thirty-three. Moreover, each district was named for its capital in an effort to reduce the significance of ethnicity in politics. In February 1989, however, the addition of Kalangala (the Sese Islands) brought the number of districts back up to thirty-four, and the number of counties increased to 150. There were also sixty-five urban authorities, including Kampala City Council, fourteen municipalities, twenty-seven town councils, and twenty-three town boards.

The 1962 constitution had required that nine-tenths of district council members be directly elected. In keeping with its overall emphasis on strengthening central control, the 1967 constitution gave the parliament the right to establish district councils and their offices, to decide whether some or all of their members would be elected or nominated, and to empower a national minister to suspend a district council or to undertake any of its duties. The 1967 Local Administrations Act and the 1964 Urban Authorities Act created a uniform set of regulations that gave the central government direct control over local administration in each district. District councils were limited to specified areas of responsibility--particularly primary education, road construction, land allocation, community development, law and order, and local tax collection. When district councils were revived in 1981, their members were again nominated by the central government. Chiefs and local officials continued to be appointed on the basis of the 1967 act until 1986.

The NRM government significantly altered local administration by introducing elected resistance councils (RCs) in villages, parishes, subcounties, and districts throughout the nation. The original RCs had been created during the early 1980s to support the NRA during its guerrilla war. But after 1986, the introduction of these new assemblies sharply curtailed the powers of chiefs and provided an indirect channel for popular influence at the district level and above. Creation of the RCs was in response to the first point of the Ten-Point Program, which insisted on democracy at all levels of government. In no other respect during its first four years did the NRM government achieve as much progress in implementing the political program it had adopted before taking power.

By September 1987, the NRC had established both district administrations and a hierarchy of RCs. All adults automatically became members of their village resistance council, known as an RC-I, and came together to elect a nine-person resistance committee, which administered the affairs of the village. An RC was given the right to remove any of its elected resistance committee officers who broke the law or lost the confidence of two-thirds of the council. The nine officials on the resistance committee elected by the RC-I joined with all other village resistance committees to form the parish resistance council, the RC-II, and elected the nine officials who formed the parish resistance committee. The members of this committee assembled with the other parish committee members in the subcounty to form the subcounty resistance council (RC-III) and elected the nine officials who formed the subcounty resistance committee. County resistance councils (RC-IVs) were established in the statute but functioned only intermittently as governing bodies, principally for election purposes. The district resistance council (RC-V) contained two representatives elected from each RC-III and one representative for women elected from each RC-IV and from each municipal RC. At all RC levels, heads of government departments serving that council, including chiefs, were made ex officio members of their respective RCs but without the right to vote. In 1989 the NRC determined that each RC-III would choose one representative for the NRC, and each district resistance council (RC-V) would choose a woman as its representative on the NRC. Thus, direct RC elections and popular recall existed at the village level only. The term of each RC was two years, and the RC could be suspended by the minister of local government for disrupting public security, participating in sectarian politics, engaging in smuggling, obstructing national plans, or diverting commodities to its members' private use. However, the NRC was given the power to overrule the minister.

The NRC also replaced the DC with a new official, the district administrator (DA), appointed by the president as the political head of the district. In addition to providing political direction to the district, the DAs were responsible for overseeing the implementation of central government policy, chairing the security and development committees, and organizing RCs. Providing political direction included organizing courses in political education for officials and ordinary citizens. A second new post, that of district executive secretary (DES), was filled by former DCs. The DES was required to supervise all government departments in the district, integrate district and central administration, supervise the implementation of district resistance council policies, and serve as the accounting officer for the district.

The formal change from the officially neutral DC to the explicitly political DA suggests the importance that the NRM government placed on political education in order to gain support for basic political and economic reforms. The addition of a new bureaucratic level of assistant district administrators, with responsibilities for administration at the county and subcounty levels, and reporting through the DA to the president, further entrenched the central government at the expense of the RCs. The creation of this position further reduced the direct popular control that was contemplated in the Ten-Point Program and that had been enthusiastically supported by NRM officials.

In 1990 the exact duties of the RCs and their relation to the chiefs had not been fully determined. The purpose of RCs during the guerrilla war had been far easier to establish before the NRM took power. In addition, continuing civil war and the sheer effort of electing RCs in every village, parish, subcounty, and district drew attention away from the business of the RCs. RCs were new to Uganda, and it took people time to understand how to make use of them. In 1987 the NRC had given the RCs the power "to identify local problems and find solutions." During times of shortages of basic commodities, such as sugar in June 1986, the RCs were effectively used as distribution centers. But because RC officials below the district level received no compensation, they were reluctant to give too much time to managing local affairs. In addition, the position of the chiefs remained ambiguous. Chiefs still reported to the Ministry of Local Government. Many chiefs were uncertain how much power they had under the new system, or even whom to obey when the Ministry of Local Government and the RC disagreed over the proper course of action a chief should follow.


Uganda - Judicial System


The legal system that existed in 1990 included customary, and in some cases Islamic, law in addition to statutory law. Statutory law was published in the government Gazette. The constitution provided for a High Court with a chief justice and as many other judges as parliament decided to create. It empowered the president to appoint High Court judges, although it allowed him to choose only the chief justice without following the advice of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), which was headed by the chief justice. The constitution restricted the choice of judges to those already presiding over courts of unlimited jurisdiction or to lawyers who had practiced for five years before such courts. The High Court heard appeals from magistrates' courts located in each district. In addition, the High Court acted as the court of first instance in questions involving elections to or vacancies in parliament. The 1967 constitution also declared that decisions of the High Court could be appealed to the Court of Appeal for Eastern Africa (CAEA), or to a new court of appeal established by parliament.

With the collapse of the East African Community (EAC) in 1977, the Ugandan government withdrew from the CAEA and created a national Court of Appeal. In 1980 the government made the chief justice the head of the High Court only and appointed a separate president of the Court of Appeal. These changes led to problems in the administration of justice during the next several years. The problems stemmed primarily from the anomalous position of a chief justice constitutionally restricted to be head of an inferior court. To eliminate these problems, the NRM government introduced the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 1987, and the Judicature Act (Amendment) Bill, 1987, which the NRC passed in August 1987. The name of the Court of Appeal was changed to the Supreme Court of Uganda. The chief justice became its head and the chief administrator of the judiciary. Two new positions were created, a deputy chief justice of the Supreme Court and a principal judge, who became head of the High Court. Appeals from any decision of the High Court were to be referred to the Supreme Court. To be appointed judge of the Supreme Court, a person must have qualified and served as judge of the High Court for at least seven years. Power to appoint the justices and chief justice of the Supreme Court was placed in the hands of the president. Following the precedent of the 1967 Constitution, the president had to accept the advice of the JSC except in the appointment of the chief justice. The deputy chief justice was to be appointed from among the principal judge and justices of the Supreme Court.

In 1988 the NRM government substantially changed grass-roots adjudication by giving judicial powers over civil disputes, which up until then had been exercised by chiefs, to elected resistance committees in each village, parish, and subcounty. In the past, despite their pretense of neutrality, chiefs had often discriminated against opponents of the ruling party or military government. The new local court system responded to the first point in the Ten-Point Program by placing petty and customary conflicts in the hands of democratically chosen officials. The new system also received broad popular support, according to a commission of inquiry into local government.

Each elected resistance committee was empowered to constitute itself as a court headed by the chair of the committee. If some of the committee members were absent, other members of the resistance council that had elected the committee could be coopted . Cases involving contracts, debts, or assault and battery could be heard only if they involved less than USh5,000, a relatively small sum. However, other civil disputes concerning conversion or damage to property or trespassing, and customary disputes involving land held by customary tenure, the marital status of women, the paternity of children, customary heirs, impregnation of or elopement with a female under age eighteen, and customary bail procedures could be heard regardless of amount. The orders that these courts had the power to make ranged from apology and reconciliation to compensation or attachment and sale. Appeals went to the next higher resistance committee and eventually to the High Court.

One of the most important stated objectives of the NRM government was to restore the rule of law. Toward that end, three commissions were either revived or created. The Commission for Law Reform, which had been established in the Ministry of Justice during the Amin government but had been ineffective for lack of financial resources and because of instability, was given a fresh start with the appointment of Justice Matthew Opu of the High Court as commissioner in 1986. The Commission for Law Revision, which had the task of clearing the laws of statutes that had been repealed or had become obsolete and of adding consequential amendments, was revived. The Commission of Inquiry into the Violation of Human Rights was created in 1986 to establish the human rights record from independence up to the take-over by the NRM government. A High Court justice, Arthur Oder, and five other commissioners began public hearings on human rights violations in December 1986.


Uganda - Elections


National parliamentary elections have occurred five times but only twice since independence. In all five cases, the elections failed to give a clear indication of popular feelings, and on two other occasions, scheduled elections did not even occur. During the protectorate period, general elections to the Legislative Council were held in 1958, 1961, and 1962. The 1958 elections were flawed by the refusal of several local governments to agree to any voting at all. The DP won the 1961 elections by unexpectedly winning seats in Buganda where a few of its followers voted despite a mass boycott of the polls organized by the kingdom government. The Buganda seats enabled the DP to form Uganda's first party government under the British governor, even though only a minority of the national electorate had voted for it. Consequently, independence was delayed to permit a second general election.

In the final negotiations for independence, the Kingdom of Buganda acquired the right to elect its national representatives indirectly through its local assembly, the Lukiiko. Elections to the Lukiiko were held in February 1962. The newly formed Kabaka Yekka party (KY--The King Only), which reflected intense feelings of cultural unity among the predominantly Baganda electorate, won sixty-five of sixty-eight seats. The Lukiiko then elected KY members to all of the Buganda seats in the National Assembly. The UPC and DP split the seats outside Buganda, leaving no party with a clear national mandate. An unlikely coalition between the mildly progressive UPC and the aggressively ethnic-oriented KY formed the first postindependence government under Obote's leadership in October 1962. The coalition unraveled soon after and was dissolved less than two years after independence.

Postindependence elections scheduled for 1967 were "postponed" by Obote because of the crisis of 1966. Elections organized for 1971 were canceled by Idi Amin when he took power through a military coup d'état. The Uganda National Liberation Front (UNLF), an interim government formed when the Tanzanian army overthrew Amin's military regime in 1979, organized the first national elections since independence. These elections were held in December 1980 under conditions that favored the UPC, which was still led by Obote. Widespread local opinion regarded these elections as neither free nor fair, despite acceptance of the results by a Commonwealth Observer Group, which monitored them. The UPC was declared the winner, but most Ugandans believed it actually lost the elections to the DP and took power by altering the results. Thus, before the NRM came to power, only one set of national elections had been held since independence, and its results had been hotly disputed.

In February 1989, the NRM government organized local and national elections on the basis of the RC structure that it had created. The government announced in the middle of January that there would be new elections, starting only three weeks later, for all resistance committee positions in RCs at every level, including, for the first time, the NRC. At the village, parish, and subcounty levels, the elections followed procedures the NRM had already introduced to form the RCs out of the combined membership of the resistance committees elected by the councils at each level. The same procedure was followed for the set of successive elections in urban areas, except that the RC-IIIs were named "wards" rather than subcounties and the RC-IVs "division" instead of counties. However, the RC-IIIs also gathered as an electoral college representing their counties or urban divisions to elect three representatives to the district RC, one of whom had to be a woman, as well as one representative to the NRC. Unlike other RC elections, nominees for the NRC did not have to win successive elections in the lower RCs in order to be candidates. Each district RC also chose one representative to the NRC. Only women were permitted to run for this position.

Many of the original NRC members, who continued in office without facing an election in 1989, were appointed to be election supervisors. The only restrictions placed on candidates were to require them to be residents of their constituencies and to prohibit former members of Obote's or Amin's intelligence agencies from becoming candidates. The use of county and district boundaries for constituencies removed the possibility of gerrymandering. Nomination required completion of two simple forms and the support of five qualified electors. Candidates did not have to pay a "deposit." There was no registration of voters. No campaigning was allowed, and candidates could not publicly identify themselves with a political party. The rules limited candidates' campaigns to a brief introductory speech at the time of the elections.

The elections had to be held in sequence because the RCs formed a pyramid in which the electorate at each higher level (above RC-II) was composed of elected officials from the next lower level. Elections of resistance committee officials by voters in village and parish RCs were held only three weeks after President Museveni's announcement in most parts of the country. One week later, elections were held for subcounty resistance committees. The newly elected subcounty committees immediately traveled to their county headquarters to choose two representatives to the district RC; the following week they assembled again to elect both the county's representative to the NRC and the county's woman representative to the district RC. Finally, at the end of February 1989, each district RC (except Gulu) elected its woman representative to the NRC.

Election was determined by public queuing behind the preferred candidate. Contestants stood facing away from the queues and were not permitted to turn around to see who was supporting them. The use of public queuing as a voting procedure was sharply criticized because it opened the possibility of coercion. The government agreed that a secret ballot would have been better, but argued that for the time being, the expense and prospect for misuse of ballot boxes made queuing a more desirable method of voting. All elections were held during February 1989, except in Gulu District and Usuk County, Soroti District, where they were delayed because of security problems. The Usuk elections were held the following month and the Gulu elections in October 1989. The youth and workers elections had not been held by the end of 1990.

In the February 1989 elections, village turnout was reported to be high in most areas other than those where rebels were active. Almost all elected resistance committee members, the only voters permitted in higher elections, participated in electing NRC members and the upper RCs. Fourteen ministers and deputy ministers lost NRC elections. Only two women won elections in contests against men. Four important members of Obote's government between 1980 and 1985 won seats in county constituencies, and their success provided an indication of the absence of government interference in the voting. Most losers conceded that the elections were conducted fairly, although they frequently objected to the rules under which they had to compete. The most vociferous criticism came from party leaders in the DP and the UPC. As a party, the UPC had not been active since the NRM government took office. DP politicians, on the other hand, had run in the earlier RC elections and had won a large number of them. According to the DP's own calculations, in two-thirds of the district RCs its candidates had won 84 percent of the seats in elections before February 1989. DP leaders felt they had a good chance to win national power democratically through the RC system, if the DP were permitted to compete as a party. Officials of both parties regarded the election rules as a step by the NRM government to remove them from competitive political activity. They insisted that elections without participation by competing parties could not be considered democratic. The government response was, in a meeting with the DP in 1989, to question whether or not political parties were necessary for democracy.




When the NRM took power in 1986, it added a new element to the unsolved political issues that had bedeviled Uganda since independence. It promised new and fundamental changes, but it also brought old fears to the surface. If this government demonstrated magnanimity toward its opponents and innovative solutions to Uganda's political difficulties, it also contributed significantly to the country's political tensions. This paradox appeared in one political issue after another through the first four years of the interim period. The most serious political question was the deepening division between the north and the south, even though these units were neither administrative regions nor socially or even geographically coherent entities. The relationship of Buganda to the rest of Uganda, an issue forcibly kept off the public agenda for twenty years, re-emerged in public debate. Tension between the NRM and the political parties that had competed for power since independence became a new anxiety. In addition, the government's resort to political maneuvers and surprise tactics in two of its most important initiatives in 1989, national elections and the extension of the interim period of government, illustrated the NRM's difficulties in holding the nation to its political agenda.

Fears of Regional Domination

For the first time since the protectorate was founded, the NRA victory in 1986 gave a predominantly southern cast to both the new political and the new military rulers of Uganda. For reasons of climate, population, and colonial economic policy, parts of the south, particularly Buganda, had developed economically more rapidly than the north. Until the railroad was extended from the south, cotton could not become an established cash crop in the north. Instead, early in the colonial period, northerners established a pattern of earning a cash income through labor on southern farms or through military service. Although there had never been a political coalition that consisted exclusively, or even predominantly, of southerners or northerners, the head of the government had come from the north for all but one of the preceding twenty-three years of independence, and each succeeding army's officers and recruits were predominantly northerners. Northerners feared southern economic domination, while southerners chafed under what they considered northern political and military control. Thus, the military victory of the NRA posed a sobering political question to both northerners and southerners: was the objective of its guerrilla struggle to end sectarianism, as the Ten-Point Program insisted, or to end northern political domination?

In the first few days following the NRA takeover of Kampala in January 1986, there were reports of incidents of mob action against individual northerners in the south, but the new government took decisive steps to prevent their repetition. By the end of March, NRA troops had taken military control of the north. A period of uneasy calm followed, during which northerners considered their options. Incidents of looting and rape of northern civilians by recently recruited southern NRA soldiers, who had replaced better disciplined but battle-weary troops, intensified northerners' belief that southerners would take revenge for earlier atrocities and that the government would not stop them. In this atmosphere, the NRA order in early August 1986 for all soldiers in the former army, the Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA), to report to local police stations gave rise to panic. These soldiers knew that during the Obote and Amin governments such an order was likely to have been a prelude to execution. Instead of reporting, many soldiers joined rebel movements, and a new round of civil wars began in earnest.

Although the civil wars occurred in parts of the east as well, they sharpened the sense of political cleavage between north and south and substantiated the perception that the NRM was intent on consolidating southern domination. Rebels killed some local RC officials because they were the most vulnerable representatives of the NRM government. Because war made northern economic recovery impossible, new development projects were started only in the south. And because cash crop production in the north was also impossible, the income gap between the two areas widened. Most government officials sent north were southerners because the NRA officer corps and the public service were mostly southern. By mid-1990, the NRA had gained the upper hand in the wars in the north, but the political damage had been done. The NRM government had become embroiled in war because it had failed to persuade northerners that it had a political program that would end regional domination. And its military success meant that for some time to come its response to all political issues would carry that extra burden of suspicion.

<"62.htm"> Buganda and the Kingship
<"63.htm"> Political Parties
<"64.htm"> Surprise Political Tactics


Uganda - Buganda and the Kingship


At independence the kingship controversy was the most important issue in Ugandan politics. Although there were four kingdoms, the real question was how much control over Buganda the central government should have. The power of the king as a uniting symbol for the Baganda became apparent following his deportation by the protectorate government in 1953. When negotiations for independence threatened the autonomous status of Buganda, leading notables organized a political party to protect the king. The issue was successfully presented as a question of survival of the Baganda as a separate nation because the position of the king had been central to Buganda's precolonial culture. On that basis, defense of the kingship attracted overwhelming support in local Buganda government elections, which were held just before independence. To oppose the king in Buganda at that time would have meant political suicide.

After the 1967 constitution abolished all kings, the Ugandan army turned the king's palace into their barracks and the Buganda parliament building into their headquarters. It was difficult to know how many Baganda continued to support the kingship and how intensely they felt about it because no one could express support openly. After a brief flirtation with restoration, Amin also refused to consider it. By the 1980s, more than half of all Baganda had never lived under their king. The Conservative Party, a marginal group led by the last man to serve as Buganda's prime minister under a king, contested the 1980 elections but received little support. NRM leaders could not be sure that the Baganda would accept their government or the Ten-Point Program. The NRA was ambivalent in its response to this issue. On the one hand, until its final year, the guerrilla struggle to remove Obote had been conducted entirely in Buganda, involved a large number of Baganda fighters, and depended heavily on the revulsion most Baganda felt for Obote and the UPC. On the other hand, many Baganda who had joined the NRA and received a political education in the Ten-Point Program rejected ethnic loyalty as the basis of political organization. Nevertheless, though a matter of dispute, many Ugandans reported that Museveni promised in public, near the end of the guerrilla struggle, to restore the kingship and to permit Ronald Mutebi, the heir apparent, to become king. Many other Ugandans opposed the restoration just as strongly, primarily for the political advantages it would give Buganda.

Controversy erupted a few months after the NRM takeover, when the heads of each of the clans in Buganda organized a public campaign for the restoration of the kingship, the return of the Buganda parliament building (which the NRA had continued to use as the army headquarters), and permission for Mutebi to return to Uganda. Over the next month, the government struggled to regain the political initiative from the clan heads. First, in July 1986 the prime minister, Samson Kisekka--a Muganda--told people at a public rally in Buganda to stop this "foolish talk." Without explanation, the government abruptly ordered the cancellation of celebrations to install the heir of another kingdom a week later. Nevertheless, the newspapers reported more demands for the return of Mutebi by Buganda clan elders. The cabinet then issued a statement conceding the intensity of public interest but insisting the question of restoring kings was up to the forthcoming Constitutional Assembly and not within the powers of the interim government. Then, three weeks later, the NRM issued its own carefully worded statement calling supporters of restoration "disgruntled opportunists purporting to be monarchists" and threatening to take action against anyone who continued to agitate on this issue. At the same time, the president agreed to meet with the clan elders, even though that gave a fresh public boost to the controversy. Then, in a surprise move, the president convinced Mutebi to return home secretly in mid-August 1986, presenting the clan elders with a fait accompli. Ten days later, the government arrested a number of Baganda, whom it accused of a plot to overthrow the government and restore the king. But while Museveni managed to take the wind from the sails of Buganda nationalism, he was forced to go to inordinate lengths to defuse public feeling, and nothing was settled. The kingship issue was likely to re-emerge with equal intensity and unpredictable consequences when the draft for a new constitution was presented for public discussion.


Uganda - Political Parties


With the NRM's accession to power, the very existence of the old political parties, particularly the DP and the UPC, became an issue. The Ten-Point Program blamed much of Uganda's previous difficulties on the excessive reliance of the leaders of the old parties upon manipulation of ethnic and religious loyalties for their own benefit. The alternative, though not spelled out, would be politics without parties. Even though the results were rigged, the 1980 general elections had demonstrated that both the DP and the UPC retained a mass following despite their repression by the Amin dictatorship and that the UPM, the predecessor party of many important NRM leaders, did not attract many voters. For its own part, the NRM claimed that it was a political movement, not a party; but the NRM did not have sufficient political support to liquidate the old parties. Instead, in an ambiguous, informal, and often shifting compromise, it restricted the public activities of the old parties but invited several of their political leaders to participate in its cabinet and even to contest RC elections.

The old parties were permitted to maintain their headquarters and to issue statements but could not hold rallies or campaign on behalf of candidates for RC elections. This decision stirred fears among adherents of the old parties that the NRM intended to consolidate its hold on power and eventually eliminate them. Nevertheless, the NRM's adroit use of another of its principles, broad-based government, kept an uneasy peace with the parties, particularly the DP, through the appointment of party leaders to important government positions. The DP was awarded so many important portfolios in the first cabinet in 1986 that it almost seemed to be the senior coalition partner. In addition, the NRM turned a blind eye toward the successful election of many DP party members in RC elections during the first two years of the interim period. According to the DP's own estimates, it had won 84 percent of the seats in RC-Vs, the district resistance councils, in twenty-two of the then thirty-three districts, compared with only 7 percent for the NRM and 7 percent for the UPC.

At the DP's insistence, the NRM met sporadically between 1986 and March 1988 for private discussions over the appropriate party system for Uganda. These meetings ended when the NRM unilaterally insisted that party activities must be suspended for an unspecified period of time, after which a referendum would be held to decide whether the constitution would adopt a system permitting multiparty competitive politics. Northerners in the rebel Uganda People's Democratic Army (UPDA) expressed similar anxieties. In the peace agreement they signed with the NRM in June 1988, they insisted on a national referendum on the party system and on the form of government to replace interim rule. However, the relationship of the referendum to the process of drafting a new constitution, or even if one would be held, remained unclear at the end of 1990.

When the NRM extended its prohibition on parties to prevent them from campaigning and from nominating candidates for new members of the NRC in the elections of February 1989, the issue became considerably more threatening to the officials of the old parties. The UPC promptly responded by denouncing the elections as a charade intended to consolidate the NRM's grip on power and by insisting that no UPC members would participate. Nonetheless, several prominent UPC politicians did contest NRC seats, but without making any public reference to their party identity. Even more DP politicians ran for the NRC while also following the government rules. After the elections, the DP headquarters issued a statement deploring the ban on parties and warning the NRM not to impose its own choice of government on the people. The DP appeared to have lost its pre-eminent position in the lower RC elections in 1989, and it did not do particularly well in the parliamentary contests either, though its members probably won more elections than UPC politicians. However, data to substantiate this point were not available. Leaders of the NRM defended the elections as successful because they were free from overt sectarian influences. But many observers believed that the NRM's chances for continuing in power through elections might depend on not having to compete on an equal footing with the other parties. If that prediction were widely believed by Ugandans, the Constitutional Assembly, likely to be the next arena to consider this issue, could find it difficult to resolve.


Uganda - Surprise Political Tactics


The adroit political maneuvering of the NRM disguised its weakness in implementing its political agenda. Two of the more important political initiatives it took during its first four years were the general elections of February 1989 and the extension of interim rule the following October. In both cases, the government designed the initiatives to protect itself. It kept tight control by surprising its opponents and then moving too fast to permit them to take any political advantages. Museveni announced the February elections only three weeks before they began. The rules ensured that the NRM could not lose control over the government, regardless of the outcome. Aspiring candidates had to make an immediate choice to oppose the electoral system or to participate in it.

The NRM's October 1989 extension of the interim period until 1995 broke the most important promise the NRM had made in taking power, though the difficulties created by the war and the economy had made the four-year deadline impractical. The NRM rushed legislation for the five-year extension through the NRC in one week, despite demands from some parliamentarians for time to consult their constituents. The first person in Uganda ever to resign from parliament did so over the government's failure to allow public discussion of this issue. The government undoubtedly feared that a public campaign against the extension would serve as a vehicle for other political issues and so cripple its legitimacy. As in the case of outwitting the Baganda clan heads, the government's clever tactics helped it win the day but only at the expense of attending to its own agenda. In addition, NRM leaders were sufficiently flexible to bring their opponents into office under the umbrella of broad-based government, but that also reduced their political options by forcing them to respond to their opponents' interests in maintaining their own ethnic, religious, and patronage connections.

At the same time, until 1990 the government did not use surprise tactics to set up a new constitution. It allowed the commission appointed for that purpose to take two years to collect public testimony and write a draft. Indeed, completing the constitutional process without a rush was an important reason for extending the interim period. NRM leaders knew the minefield of Ugandan politics. Giving their opponents more time or room for maneuver might have mired each initiative or forced the government into using coercion and losing any chance to build political support. The interconnections of the north-south question, the Buganda question, and the party question made the government's tactical strategy all the more imperative. The NRM's use of tactics, so reminiscent of its surprise attacks during the guerrilla struggle against the Obote government, allowed it to retain the political initiative. But it also indicated that NRM leaders had discovered how difficult and how slow it would be to make any of the fundamental changes they had called for in the Ten-Point Program.




Uganda is landlocked and depends on foreign imports for most of its consumer goods and energy requirements. Even before independence, maintaining an open trade route to the Indian Ocean was the primary foreign policy objective of all governments. For this reason, once the railroad from Mombasa to Kampala was completed early in the protectorate period, relations with Kenya became the government's most significant foreign concern. During much of the period of British rule, the most worrying foreign issue for politically conscious Ugandans was the possibility that Kenyan white settlers would gain control over all of East Africa. During the 1950s, when African nationalism gained the upper hand in the four East African territories, the achievement of closer relations among the four also became an important foreign policy objective. Later, however, economic differences eroded initiatives toward federation and eventually led to hostilities between Uganda and Kenya in the 1980s that would have been unimaginable two decades earlier. After independence, political issues erupting into violence within Uganda or its neighbors also caused serious strains in their bilateral relations, frequently involving rebels, refugees, and even military incursions. Because of its former colonial rule, Britain maintained a close and special relationship with Uganda. But over time, this role slowly diminished as Uganda cultivated new links with other industrialized countries. And, despite its protestations of nonalignment, Uganda remained far more closely linked, both economically and politically, to the capitalist than to the socialist bloc.

Ugandan foreign policy objectives changed considerably after Idi Amin's coup d'état in 1971. For the first decade after independence, policymakers had emphasized cooperation with Uganda's neighbors and the superpowers, participation in international organizations, and nonalignment in order to protect the state's sovereignty and support the African bloc as much as possible without losing opportunities for expanding trade or gaining assistance for development. When Amin seized power, he followed a far more aggressive, though unpredictable, foreign policy. Uganda threatened its neighbors both verbally and militarily. The gratuitous verbal attacks that Amin launched on foreign powers served mainly to isolate Uganda.

The NRM government introduced new radical foreign policy objectives when it first came to power and consequently brought new complications into Uganda's foreign relations. At the outset, President Museveni enthusiastically supported international and especially African cooperation but conditioned it on an ideological evaluation of whether or not other regimes were racist, dictatorial, or corrupt, or violated human rights. On this basis, shortly after taking power the government went to great lengths to enter trade agreements with other developing countries based on barter rather than cash, in order to publicize Uganda's autonomy, even though most of its exports continued to consist of coffee purchased by the United States or by European states, and most of its imports came from Europe. In response, Uganda's neighbors were suspicious of Museveni's radical pronouncements and felt that he was attacking their rule through his denunciations of their human rights policies. They also avoided close ties to Uganda because they suspected that the NRM government, having come to power through a guerrilla struggle, might assist dissidents intending to overthrow them.

During its first four years in power, the NRM government moderated its foreign policy stance to one that more closely reflected the conventional positions of preceding Ugandan governments than the changes proposed in its Ten-Point Program. Uganda maintained friendly relations with Libya, the Soviet Union, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea), and Cuba, although most of its trade and development assistance came from the West. In addition, though it consistently maintained its stance of geopolitical nonalignment, the fact that the NRM government accepted an IMF structural adjustment plan made it more politically acceptable to Western leaders. During this period, many African leaders overcame their suspicion of Museveni and the NRM and elected him chair of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in July 1990.

Postindependence heads of government in Uganda made almost all significant foreign policy-making decisions themselves, leaving their foreign ministers to carry them out or explain them away. In order to shore up their domestic power bases, Obote, Amin, and Museveni often introduced new foreign policies that broke sharply with existing relations. They also used foreign policy symbolically to signal the international posture they wished to cultivate. Amin's pronouncements were the most puzzling because they frequently incurred enormous costs for Uganda's relations with other states. Foreign ministry officials never knew when it was safe to ignore his orders or when they had to take them seriously. All three presidents often used foreign policy as a public gesture in an effort to give the government more autonomy in international affairs, improve its public standing with radical states, or satisfy vocal militants in the government. In such cases, the government usually gave public support to radical states and causes, while continuing privately to maintain its more conservative foreign relationships. Foreign relations with radical countries, however much they irritated United States and British officials, did not play a significant role in shaping Ugandan foreign policy.

<"66.htm"> Regional Organizations
<"67.htm"> Kenya and Tanzania
<"68.htm">Sudan, Rwanda, and Zaire
<"69.htm"> Britain
<"70.htm"> The United States
<"71.htm"> Israel


Uganda - Regional Organizations


Even before independence, overlapping cultural, linguistic, and economic ties, as well as common nationalist sentiments, stimulated a desire for East African federation among Ugandans, Kenyans, and Tanzanians. A declaration of intent, signed in 1963, led to the formation of the East African Community (EAC) in 1967. In 1977 the EAC was dissolved, the victim of Ugandan and Tanzanian fears of Kenyan economic dominance, and, for different reasons, Kenyan and Tanzanian government opposition to Amin. Despite its brief life, the EAC provided Uganda's deepest regional involvement since independence. In the Ten-Point Program, the NRM government bitterly assailed the break-up of the EAC, blaming national leaders in all three countries for their shortsightedness. Nevertheless, the NRM government chose to participate in African organizations that served larger regions, rather than to try to resurrect a union limited to the three East African states.

Given the importance the NRM attached to African cooperation, it was no surprise that its leaders strongly supported initiatives to build closer economic and developmental relations among states in eastern and southern Africa. The Ugandan government set great store by its membership in the Preferential Trade Area (PTA) for East and Southern Africa, which contained sixteen member states in Central, Southern, and East Africa from Djibouti in the northeast to Zimbabwe in the south. The PTA's main purpose was to stimulate regional trade by removing tariffs among its member states and by arranging for direct payment in their own nonconvertible currencies rather than using their reserves of convertible foreign exchange. In December 1987, the Ugandan government hosted the PTA summit of heads of state in Kampala where the decision was taken to eliminate tariffs among members by the year 2000. In his address to the United Nations (UN) in October 1987, Museveni had predicted that the PTA would help to create a single market among member states that could sustain industrial development.

The NRM government joined with five other states--Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, and Somalia--to form the InterGovernmental Authority on Drought and Development (IGADD) in January 1986. The organization intended to coordinate projects involving drought, desertification, and agriculture in the region and to interest donors in their implementation. In its first few years, it did little to accomplish this goal. But it did serve as an annual occasion for the heads of member states to meet and discuss pressing political issues.

Uganda also joined the Kagera Basin Organization in 1981. The organization, formed by Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi in 1977, attempted to promote various development projects in the Kagera River Basin but was unable to secure sufficient financing to make much progress toward its objectives.


Uganda - Kenya and Tanzania


A general climate of good neighborliness and noninterference in each others' affairs marked relations among the three East African states during the 1960s. But these ties became strained at the end of the decade, as Obote's tentative moves toward more radical domestic and foreign policies caused anxiety among the more conservative Kenyan leadership and drew praise from the socialist-minded Tanzanians. Amin's coup d'état in 1971 created a sharp break in Uganda's ties to Tanzania and upset relations with Kenya. Immediately after the coup, the Kenyan authorities forced Obote to leave Nairobi, and Kenya recognized Amin's government. The Tanzanians welcomed Obote and continued to consider him the Ugandan head of state until shortly before the overthrow of Amin in 1979. Kenyan business people took sufficient advantage of shortages in Uganda during the Amin period that Kenya eventually replaced Britain as Uganda's main trading partner. However, many of Kenya's exports to Uganda were actually goods transshipped from Europe and the United States. Kenyan business people were frequently paid in Ugandan coffee, which they smuggled across the border and sold to the Kenyan government. These ties were temporarily disrupted in 1976 when Amin suddenly claimed for Uganda all Kenyan territory west of Lake Naivasha on the basis of early colonial boundaries. A large number of Ugandan refugees, particularly the highly educated, found jobs in Kenya during the 1970s.

Meanwhile, the Tanzanian government supported an unsuccessful invasion of Uganda organized by Obote in 1972. In 1978 Amin sent the Ugandan army into the Kagera Salient in northwest Tanzania, where it plundered the area. The Tanzanian authorities sent their army to oust the Ugandans but, after meeting little resistance, invaded Uganda with a small contingent of Ugandan irregulars to overthrow Amin and install a Ugandan liberation front as his successor. The Tanzanian army remained in Uganda to maintain peace while the Ugandan liberation front organized elections to return the country to civilian rule. Officially, the Tanzanians were neutral, leaving political decisions to Ugandan officials. However, in early 1980, the Tanzanian army acquiesced in the removal of the interim president by Obote's supporters in the newly formed Ugandan army. After the 1980 election, President Obote discreetly distanced himself from the Tanzanian government and formed amicable relations with Kenyan officials and business people. After Obote was overthrown in 1985, the short-lived military government maintained friendly ties with the Kenyan president, Daniel T. arap Moi.

The Okello government engaged in a war with the NRM that few observers thought it could win. Moi successfully mediated peace negotiations between the NRM and the Okello government in Nairobi in late 1985. However, the agreement for the two sides to share power was never implemented, as war broke out a month later and quickly resulted in the NRM's seizure of Kampala. President Moi, together with the heads of state from Zaire and Rwanda, met with Museveni shortly thereafter in Goma, Zaire, but he remained irritated over the NRM's "betrayal" of the agreement in which he had invested much of his time and prestige. In addition, Moi feared that the example of a guerrilla force taking power from an established African government might give heart to Kenyan dissidents and that the NRM government might even assist them. He also regarded Museveni's government as left-wing and likely to make alliances with radical states, which Kenya shunned. A year later, Moi accused the Ugandans of permitting Kenyan dissidents to arrange for guerrilla training by Libya.

In its first year in office, the NRM government attempted to reduce the cost of transporting its coffee to the Kenyan port of Mombasa by shifting from private Kenyan trucking companies, thought to have connections with Kenyan government figures, to rail delivery. It also announced plans to shift some of its other trade from Kenyan to Tanzanian routes. The Kenyan government and its press reacted strongly by castigating Uganda, disrupting supplies and telephone service, and unilaterally closing the border on several occasions. In response, in the middle of 1987 Uganda closed down its supply of electricity to Kenya and suspended all coffee shipments through Kenya. It also accused Kenya of assisting Ugandan dissidents fighting in eastern and northern Uganda. For three days in mid-December 1987, there was firing across the border, and it appeared that the two countries might go to war. The two high commissioners were harassed and expelled. The two presidents met in the border town of Malaba two weeks later. They reopened the border, pulled their troops back from it, and agreed to ship coffee to Mombasa on Kenya Railways, but similar hostile threats and actions occurred intermittently over the next several years. In March 1989, the Kenyan government claimed that a sizeable contingent of NRA troops had invaded northwest Kenya and that a Ugandan aircraft had bombed a small town in the same area. Uganda denied both allegations, pointing out it had no aircraft capable of carrying out such a raid and that the "soldiers" were probably cattle rustlers who had carried out raids across the border for years. For its part, the Ugandan government claimed that the Kenyans were continuing secretly to assist rebels infiltrating eastern Uganda, and tensions remained high through mid-1990. Both leaders expressed their willingness to improve relations, however, and in mid-August 1990, Museveni and Moi met and agreed to cooperate in ending their longstanding animosity.

Relations between the NRM government and Tanzania were quieter and more correct, if not especially warm. The two governments were suspicious of each other when the NRM took power. On the one hand, NRM leaders believed the Tanzanians had supported Obote's efforts to gain power during the interim period before the 1980 elections and had helped him in his efforts to suppress the NRA during the guerrilla struggle. On the other hand, Museveni had admired Tanzania's progressive policies since his university days in Dar es Salaam. When the Ugandan government had asked a team of British military advisers to leave in November 1986, it replaced them with Tanzanian army trainers. Moreover, both governments strongly supported regional cooperation. Despite all of Uganda's public statements about developing an alternative route for its exports through Tanzania in the late 1980s, there was little it could send by that route until Tanzanian roads were rebuilt and the port of Dar es Salaam functioned more effectively.


Uganda - Sudan, Rwanda, and Zaire


Uganda's relations with its other neighbors were dominated by responses to serious domestic political conflicts within Uganda or a neighboring state that spilled over their common borders. After the NRM took power, the threat that it would support likeminded radical guerrilla movements near the border in each of Uganda's neighbors except Tanzania tinged interstate relations with deep suspicion.

Relations with Sudan had been primarily concerned with the consequences of the Sudanese civil war for the first decade after Uganda's independence. The Ugandan government regarded the war as pitting Africans against Arabs and thus tended to be sympathetic to the southern desire for secession. Thousands of southern Sudanese refugees fled to Uganda. Following the assumption of power by a left-wing Sudanese regime in 1969, Obote tilted his loyalties toward the Sudanese government in order to strengthen his own radical credentials. After this war was settled in 1972, Uganda's relations with Sudan became quieter. Many southern Sudanese took advantage of Amin's ethnic ties to southern Sudan to join the Ugandan Army and take part in its indiscriminate attacks on Ugandan civilians. When Amin was overthrown, the Sudanese soldiers, along with many Ugandan supporters of Amin, fled to southern Sudan. There they were joined by 200,000 Ugandan refugees, mostly from northwest Uganda, during Obote's second presidency, when the new Ugandan Army took revenge on them.

In 1983 a new phase began with the second Sudanese civil war, which was complicated in 1986 by an outbreak of fighting in northern Uganda between remnants of Obote's former Ugandan army and the NRA. Each government accused the other of assisting antigovernment rebels. After 1987 President Museveni became a mediator in an effort to arrange meetings in Kampala between the leaders of the warring Sudanese factions. In support of this policy, the NRM government announced that it would not export revolution and thus would not help the Sudanese rebels or give them sanctuary in Uganda. By 1990 the border had become considerably less significant in disrupting relations between the two countries because Sudanese rebels controlled most of it, because the northern Ugandan rebels who had used Sudan as a sanctuary were largely defeated, and because most of the Ugandan refugees in Sudan had returned home. In early April 1990, Sudanese ruler Lieutenant General Umar Hasan Ahmad al Bashir visited Kampala and signed a nonaggression pact with Museveni.

Rwandans had started to migrate from their overpopulated country to Uganda in search of jobs early in the colonial period. Four years before Uganda became independent, a revolution in Rwanda in which Hutu agriculturalists took power from their Tutsi (Watutsi) overlords resulted in a mass exodus of Tutsi refugees into Uganda. Many remained in camps, hoping eventually to return home, but the Rwandan government refused to accept them, claiming the country was too overcrowded. During Obote's second presidency in the 1980s, the Ugandan government regarded them as supporters of the NRM. A crisis erupted in 1982 when local officials in southwestern Uganda forced 80,000 people of Rwandan descent, including many with Ugandan citizenship, to leave their homes and possessions. Refused entry into Rwanda, they were forced to live in refugee camps on the Ugandan side of the border, where they remained through 1990. Relations with Rwanda were again strained in October 1990, when Rwandans in the NRA joined a rebel invasion of northern Rwanda. President Juvénal Habyarimana accused Museveni of supporting the Rwandan Patriotic Front, and relations worsened throughout the rest of 1990.

Uganda's involvement in rebel activity in Zaire almost brought down the Obote government in 1966, although the Ruwenzururu rebellion on the Ugandan side of the border during the 1960s attracted little support from Zaire. During the late 1980s, however, when a radical Zairian group dedicated to the overthrow of President Mobutu Sese Seko, the Congolese Liberation Party (Parti de Libération Congolaise--PLC), became active in the same mountains, Mobutu accused the NRM of supporting it. Remnants of the Ruwenzururu movement established a working relationship with the PLC in 1987, and the NRM became the enemy of both rebel movements. As the PLC increased its attacks in Zaire from its sanctuary in the Ugandan Ruwenzori Mountains, Mobutu responded by helping former UPC politicians with close links to Ruwenzururu leaders establish an exile group in Zaire for the purpose of overthrowing the NRM government. Meanwhile, farther north there were intermittent clashes between Ugandan and Zairian soldiers, both as a result of the NRM's campaign to eliminate cross-border smuggling and over fishing rights in the lakes along the border. Large numbers of Ugandans, who had fled into Zaire as refugees during the Amin and second Obote governments, had begun to return to Uganda. But in June 1987, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) program assisting them was closed. And in a bizarre incident that further soured interstate relations, Amin attempted to return to northern Uganda through Zaire in January 1989 but was recognized and held in the airport at Kinshasa. In the absence of an extradition treaty with Uganda, Zaire allowed Amin to return to his home in exile in Saudi Arabia, despite NRM demands for his return to stand trial. In September 1990, Museveni and Mobutu agreed to cooperate in resolving border security problems, but despite this pledge the border area remained unsettled for the rest of the year.


Uganda - Britain


By virtue of its former imperial relationship with Uganda, Britain had special economic and political links with its former territory, although these connections eroded over the quarter century of upheaval after Uganda's independence. As British officials struggled to maintain ties, they chose to support the Amin and second Obote regimes long after most Ugandans and most other foreign governments had rejected them. Relations with Britain also depended on the attitude of different Ugandan governments, which balanced their need for loans and technical assistance against their desire to project an image of a nonaligned foreign policy. At independence Britain had been Uganda's chief trading partner and the queen its head of state. Irritated by President Obote's "move to the left" in the 1960s and by his vocal criticism of British arms sales to South Africa, the British government was delighted when Amin overthrew Obote in January 1971. Britain was the first country to recognize the new Ugandan regime and within a few months provided Amin with military assistance. However, relations were strained to the breaking point in 1972 when without consultation or warning, Amin expelled Uganda's Indian population (about half of whom held British passports), forcing Britain to accept a large number of refugees despite its own restrictive immigration legislation. Britain responded by halting all aid to Uganda and imposing an economic embargo. In January 1973, Amin recalled his high commissioner from London, nationalized British tea estates and other firms (but not British banks), and threatened to expel the 7,000 British residents of Uganda. By March the following year, 6,000 British had left Uganda, and Britain broke diplomatic relations in July 1976 when Amin's soldiers killed a woman hostage holding British and Israeli citizenship in revenge for the Israeli rescue of the other hostages captured by the Palestinians and held at the airport at Entebbe. Nevertheless, despite the revelations of atrocities carried out by state officials, the British government allowed private firms to supply Amin with luxury goods paid for with Ugandan coffee until 1979.

Immediately after the Amin regime was overthrown, Britain recognized the interim government and promised aid and technical assistance. Later in the interim period, the British government sent a team to train the police, a controversial initiative which it has continued ever since. British authorities responded cautiously to Obote's claimed success in the 1980 elections, but once he convinced them of his pro-Western economic policies, they supported him to the bitter end. Despite Western governments' criticism of the Obote regime, as the behavior of the army throughout the country--particularly in the Luwero Triangle-- became known, British authorities at first either disputed the allegations or kept silent, as they had during the latter years of the Amin regime. Then in 1986, despite their former support for Obote, the British immediately established close relations with the NRM. In November 1987, Museveni visited London, where he held talks with the queen and the prime minister, but at the same time, he continued to criticize their government for its failure to impose trade sanctions on South Africa.


Uganda - The United States


The United States has had no significant geopolitical, business, or trading interests in Uganda, although a number of United States firms did a profitable business with Uganda, particularly during the Amin period. For the most part, the United States government has maintained a low profile, avoiding involvement in domestic Ugandan political issues, while administering a relatively small economic assistance program and seeking Uganda's support on several issues before the UN. For their part, the Ugandan authorities attempted to adhere to a policy of nonalignment that allowed them to criticize such United States policies as its intervention in Vietnam, while persuading the United States to expand its development assistance and to support an increase in Uganda's international coffee quota. After Uganda's break with Britain in 1973, the United States became Uganda's chief trading partner for a short time, but relations were nonetheless becoming strained. The United States Embassy was closed in November 1973 (although the Ugandan Embassy in Washington remained open), while United States firms supplied the government with security equipment used by the army and the notorious Ugandan intelligence service. In October 1978, the United States Congress ended all trade with Uganda. With Amin's overthrow in 1979, the United States Embassy reopened and provided emergency relief, particularly food, medical supplies, and small farm implements. When the second Obote regime indicated its pro-Western stance in 1980, the United States government responded with additional agricultural assistance.

The guerrilla struggle soon created new strains between the United States and Uganda, however, as the United States Embassy forthrightly reported to its Congress the pattern of growing human rights violations by government and army officials. This issue came to a head in July 1984, when the United States assistant secretary of state for human rights and humanitarian affairs testified that between 100,000 and 200,000 Ugandans had been killed in the Luwero Triangle and that Obote's forces behaved much like Amin's army. The United States ambassador publicly added that under the Obote regime, human rights were ignored with greater impunity than under Amin. The Ugandan government denied the accusation and withdrew its military officers who had been training in the United States. When the NRM came to power, friendly relations were quickly restored. The United States aid program was reoriented to focus on immediate rehabilitation priorities identified by the Ugandan government, particularly the war-damaged areas in the Luwero Triangle and in the matter of the resettlement of refugees returning from Sudan and Zaire. Museveni visited Washington in October 1987 and February 1989 for consultations with the president and members of Congress.


Uganda - Israel


Uganda had friendly relations with Israel until the late 1960s, when Obote strengthened ties with Sudan and tried to prevent the Israelis from continuing to use Ugandan territory to supply the southern Sudanese liberation movement. However, Amin, then head of the army and increasingly at odds with Obote, helped keep these supply routes open. Amin, who may have received some help from the Israeli military mission in Uganda in his 1971 coup, immediately restored friendly relations with Israel after he seized power. But in March 1972, after peace was restored in Sudan and Amin's request for military equipment was rebuffed, he expelled resident Israelis from Uganda, broke diplomatic relations, and established ties with Libya and other Arab nations. Israel promptly imposed a trade embargo on Uganda, and in July 1976, the Israeli government mounted a surprise rescue operation of air passengers hijacked to the airport at Entebbe by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Following Amin's overthrow, Ugandan governments, including Museveni, continued to support the African boycott of Israel.


CITATION: Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress. The Country Studies Series. Published 1988-1999.

Please note: This text comes from the Country Studies Program, formerly the Army Area Handbook Program. The Country Studies Series presents a description and analysis of the historical setting and the social, economic, political, and national security systems and institutions of countries throughout the world.

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