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.
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
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.
In 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.