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    Uganda Table of   ContentsTHE 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

    Source: U.S. Library of Congress


    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.




    Facts about Uganda

    World Facts IndexThe colonial   boundaries created by Britain to delimit Uganda grouped together a wide range   of ethnic groups with different political systems and cultures. These   differences prevented the establishment of a working political community   after independence was achieved in 1962. The dictatorial regime of Idi AMIN   (1971-79) was responsible for the deaths of some 300,000 opponents; guerrilla   war and human rights abuses under Milton OBOTE (1980-85) claimed at least   another 100,000 lives. The rule of Yoweri MUSEVENI since 1986 has brought   relative stability and economic growth to Uganda. During the 1990s, the   government promulgated non-party presidential and legislative elections.

    Geography   of Uganda

    Location: Eastern     Africa, west of Kenya
    Coordinates: 1 00     N, 32 00 E
    Area: Total:     236,040 sq km
    Water: 36,330 sq km
    Land: 199,710 sq km
    Area     comparative: slightly     smaller than Oregon
    Land     boundaries: total:     2,698 km
    border countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo 765 km, Kenya 933 km,     Rwanda 169 km, Sudan 435 km, Tanzania 396 km
    Coastline: 0 km     (landlocked)
    Maritime     claims: none     (landlocked)
    Climate: tropical;     generally rainy with two dry seasons (December to February, June to     August); semiarid in northeast
    Terrain: mostly     plateau with rim of mountains
    Elevation     extremes: lowest     point: Lake Albert 621 m
    highest point: Margherita Peak on Mount Stanley 5,110 m
    Natural     resources: copper,     cobalt, hydropower, limestone, salt, arable land
    Environment     current issues: draining     of wetlands for agricultural use; deforestation; overgrazing; soil erosion;     water hyacinth infestation in Lake Victoria; poaching is widespread
    Geography     – note: landlocked;     fertile, well-watered country with many lakes and rivers


    Population   of Uganda

    Population: 31,367,972     (July 2008 est.)
    Age     structure: 0-14     years: 50% (male 7,091,763/female 6,996,385)
    15-64 years: 47.8% (male 6,762,071/female 6,727,230)
    65 years and over: 2.2% (male 266,931/female 351,374)
    Median     age: 15     years
    Growth     rate: 3.37%
    Infant     mortality: 66.15     deaths/1,000 live births
    Life     expectancy at birth: total     population: 52.67 years
    male: 51.68 years
    female: 53.69 years
    Fertility     rate: 6.71     children born/woman
    Nationality: noun:     Ugandan(s)
    adjective: Ugandan
    Ethnic     groups: Buganda     17%, Ankole 8%, Basoga 8%, Iteso 8%, Bakiga 7%, Langi 6%, Rwanda 6%, Bagisu     5%, Acholi 4%, Lugbara 4%, Batoro 3%, Bunyoro 3%, Alur 2%, Bagwere 2%,     Bakonjo 2%, Jopodhola 2%, Karamojong 2%, Rundi 2%, non-African (European,     Asian, Arab) 1%, other 8%
    Religions: Roman     Catholic 33%, Protestant 33%, Muslim 16%, indigenous beliefs 18%
    Languages: English     (official national language, taught in grade schools, used in courts of law     and by most newspapers and some radio broadcasts), Ganda or Luganda (most     widely used of the Niger-Congo languages, preferred for native language     publications in the capital and may be taught in school), other Niger-Congo     languages, Nilo-Saharan languages, Swahili, Arabic
    Literacy: definition:     age 15 and over can read and write
    total population: 69.9%
    male: 79.5%
    female: 60.4%





    Uganda Table of ContentsUganda 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.

    Rita M. Byrnes, ed. Uganda: A Country Study.   Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress.


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