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Uganda Modern History

At independence in 1962, Uganda was a relatively rich country with fertile land and some industry, but politically it was fragmented. During its first ten years, the country had experienced two coups and dictator Idi Amin's brutal regime destroyed the country completely before he was overthrown with the help of Tanzania in 1979. Battles and misrule continued u connects Milton Obote before 1986 Yoweri Museveni took power by force. Under his rule up to the present, Uganda has stabilized and the standard of living has been raised, although the country has significant democratic shortcomings. The rebel group Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and the regime's countermeasures against it have caused much suffering in Northern Uganda.

  • ABBREVIATIONFINDER: List of most commonly used acronyms containing Uganda. Also includes historical, economical and political aspects of the country.

Uganda became independent from the United Kingdom in October 1962. The country gained a federal constitution with a president without political power as head of state. The four regions, Buganda, Ankole, Bunyoro and Toro, were given extensive self-sufficiency. In a parliamentary election earlier that year, UPC had won 37 seats, DP 22 seats and the Bugandian king's support party, Only King, had received 21 seats. UPC and Only the King had formed a coalition government. UPC leader Obote, as prime minister, led the country into independence. One year later, Uganda became a republic with the Bugandan king, Kabaka, Edward Mutesa II as president.

In 1966, Obote conducted a palace coup and took over the presidency himself. He had arrested five of his ministers, who were accused of planning a coup with Mutesa II. A few months later, troops led by Deputy Army Chief Idi Amin Dada Mutesa's Palace stormed. The king fled to London where he died three years later.

In September 1967, the Obot regime adopted a new foundation. Uganda became a unified state, led by a president with great powers. At the same time, Obote initiated a "left turn" of the country's politics. The state would take over 60 percent of ownership in all major companies. All opposition was defeated with the help of the security service and semi-military forces.

Contemporary History of UgandaIn January 1971, Deputy Army Chief Amin, from the Kakwa people in the northwest, took power in a coup when Obote was abroad. Amin's regime promised free elections within five years. It was quickly recognized by Britain and was secretly supported by, among others, Israel. Many Western countries welcomed the overthrow of Obote, which was considered too leftist.

Initially, Amin was also hailed by his countrymen as a hero for freeing Uganda from Obote's tough regime, but soon his violent politics aroused terror within the country. It is estimated that 100,000 people were killed in the months following the coup, when Amin's soldiers attacked mainly the Acholi and Lango people who dominated the army.

In August 1972, Amin declared "economic war" against the "foreign influence" in Uganda and expelled all persons of Asian origin. Because almost all trade and other business was handled by Asians, the economy collapsed when their property was distributed to Amin's followers, in many cases soldiers without knowledge of how to run a store or factory. Amin also threw out all Israelis and proclaimed the country a Muslim republic. The aid from Western countries was completely discontinued, but in exchange Amin received financial support from a number of Arab republics.

The horror of Amin became more and more prominent over time. 300,000 is a common, cautious, estimate of the number of people killed under Amin's rule. In addition, the country was shattered by economic neglect, oppression and war. To turn their eyes away from their own failures, Amin invaded Tanzania in 1978. The attack was fought back in January 1979 by Tanzanian troops who then proceeded to Kampala to oust Amin. They were accompanied by a loosely joined force of various Ugandan liberation movements. In April 1979, Kampala was taken, Amin fled and a provisional government was installed.

A transitional government was formed by a series of exile groups, but it was soon set aside by the military council that ruled behind the scenes. The coup was carried out by soldiers with ties to Obote. He returned from exile in 1980 and immediately launched a campaign for UPC ahead of a planned parliamentary election. The elections were held in December the same year. Preliminary results indicated a victory for DP, but UPC was declared the winner and Obote was installed as president. The election fraud was obvious.

Several guerrilla movements took up arms against the regime. Among the largest were Uganda's National Rescue Front (UNRF), most of which were Amine supporters, Uganda's Freedom Movement (UFM) and the National Resistance Army (NRA), led by the radical former Defense Minister Yoweri Museveni. Obote made some attempts to bring order to the country, but failed, not least because he had no control over the military.

In the growing war against the NRA, the government army proceeded with incredible cruelty. In the area northwest of Kampala called the Luwero Triangle, there were for years piles of skulls laid out as memories of massacres on civilians, suspected of collusion with the NRA. According to several analysts, at least as many people were killed in fighting, massacres and torture during Obote's regime as in Amin's time.

The NRA, on the other hand, was a disciplined army that did not plunder but paid people for food and other supplies. The group won strong support in the south and in 1985 it had taken control of much of southwestern Uganda. In the same year, Obote was overthrown in a military coup led by two officers, Tito Okello and Basilio Okello (who despite the surname were not related to each other). Obote fled.

A peace agreement was signed in December 1985 between the NRA and the new regime, but a month later the NRA resumed fighting. In January 1986, the NRA entered Kampala. The soldiers were hailed as heroes on the streets of the city. Museveni became Ugandan president and invited representatives of the country's parties and political groups to participate in a national unity government. In March of that year, he banned party political activities.

Museveni's first time in power was marked by fighting against several guerrilla movements. In addition to rebel groups led by former followers of Obote, there was, among other things, the Holy Spirit's movement. It was led by Alice Lakwena, who gathered several thousand men behind him through a mixture of religious preaching and exhortations to revolt against Museveni. Her troops were massacred when they attacked the NRA with traditional weapons, smeared in ointments which, according to Lakwena, would render them invulnerable.

Uganda's state leadership met the guerrilla groups both militarily and with negotiations. In 1987, Museveni offered amnesty to all guerrillas. Upwards of 30,000 of them accepted and a number of leaders joined the government. However, it was not long before several leading politicians were arrested, accused of coup attempts. Most were acquitted several years later and released.

In 1989, indirect elections were held for the Legislative Assembly. People associated with the National Resistance Movement (NRM, NRA's political branch) won a majority of the seats. NRM also won in the 1994 elections.

During the first years of the 1990s, several guerrilla groups signed ceasefire agreements and for a short period there was largely peace throughout Uganda.

In 1995, a new constitution was adopted, which retained the ban on party political activity. In May 1996, the first presidential election was held in Uganda since 1980. Although parties were not allowed, candidates could run campaigns, but Museveni's main opponent Paul Ssemogerere often had his meetings canceled by the president's supporters. Museveni won the election with just over 74 percent of the vote. International observers felt it was right, while parts of the opposition had objections and decided to boycott the parliamentary elections in June that year. NRM was also criticized for cheating. Supporters of the NRM were said to have won 156 of the 214 mandates that were at stake.

During the second half of the 1990s, the fighting against various rebel groups intensified again. The government army not only fought against the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in the north, but was also challenged by the Front of the Nile's West Bank (WNBF) with ties to the Amin faithful groups. In the southwest, the guerrilla ravaged Allied Democratic Forces-Nalu (ADF-Nalu).

In the early 1990s, Museveni had initiated cooperation with international lending institutions, through which the country received loans in exchange for economic reform. Privatizations were initiated by state-owned companies and the state bureaucracy was lost. The measures led to the economy flourishing throughout the 1990s, but nevertheless Museveni's and NRM's popularity fell. The advancement of guerrilla movements in the north and southwest was one of the main reasons. Uganda's involvement in the Congo-Kinshasa conflicts also met with criticism (see Foreign Policy and Defense).

Museveni was up for re-election in the presidential election in 2001. Now became the main opposition candidate Kizza Besigye, from the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC). Besigye, who had significant support in the military, criticized Uganda's role in Congo-Kinshasa. The campaign became violent and Besigye had his elections interrupted by police and troublemakers.

In March 2001, Museveni was re-elected president with 70 percent of the vote. But the length of the vote contained 2.5 million more names than there were eligible voters. Besigye was arrested a couple of times after the election and held for shorter periods. In the parliamentary elections later that year, candidates associated with the NRM won by a wide margin.

After a ruling in the Constitutional Court, in 2003 it became possible for political parties to operate freely again. NRM became the first to register as a political party. In 2005, the constitution was changed and a multi-party system was introduced following a referendum. In addition, the president was given the right to be re-elected an unlimited number of times.

The change meant that Museveni could stand in the presidential election in 2006. Before the election, Besigye was imprisoned, who was accused, among other things, of treason and rape. However, he was released to the bail and could take part in the election, which was clearly won by Museveni who received 59 percent of the vote, while Besygie received 37 percent. As before, the parliamentary elections were won by the NRM.

In 2005, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued arrest warrants for five of the LRA guerrillas' senior leaders, including Joseph Kony. It contributed to the guerrillas a year later agreeing to start peace talks with the Ugandan government and to a ceasefire. Kony demanded that the ICC terminate the prosecution, but the court said no. The parties still agreed on a peace agreement in 2007, but Kony failed to sign it, for fear of being arrested, despite the fact that Museveni had assured him that he would not be extradited to the ICC but would be tried in Ugandan court (see also Political system).

In 2009, an NRM member presented a motion in Parliament to tighten the already tough legislation on homosexuality. He suggested that life imprisonment with a same-sex person should be charged with a life sentence, and the death penalty if it included minors. The proposal, which had strong support in Uganda, attracted sharp criticism internationally.

At the same time, a power struggle was going on between Museveni and the country's traditional kingship. Residents of the Kingdom of Buganda demanded increased autonomy and to regain land that had previously belonged to them, demands that Museveni did not want to meet.

In 2007, Uganda had sent troops to the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia (see also Foreign Policy and Defense). In revenge for that, in July 2010, militant Somali Islamists conducted two suicide bombings in Kampala that claimed seventy lives.

Despite a series of corruption deals (see Current Policy), Museveni strengthened its position in the 2011 presidential election, winning 68 percent of the vote against 26 percent for Besigye. NRM also became the largest party in parliament. This time, 42 independent members were also elected, many of whom had previously belonged to NRM. The election received criticism from observers from both the EU and the Commonwealth, but the problems were still considered less than 2006.

 
 

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