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JSI successfully implemented the Uganda AIDS/HIV Integrated Model District Programme for the U.S. Agency for International Development from 2001 to 2006. Further information about Uganda AIM activities can be obtained from jsinfo@jsi.com

Uganda is a landlocked country lying on the Equator in central Africa, with an area of 235,887 sq km. 20% of the country is covered by inland water and swamps, the rest is a mixture of tropical rain forest, savannah, and mountains on the western borders. Climate is tropical. The population is approximately 20.4m (1997 estimate). English is the official language, and Christianity the majority religion.

History

Uganda developed from the 19th century kingdom of Buganda, based along the northern shore of Lake Victoria. In 1894 Buganda was declared a British protectorate, but the country was never fully colonised. Growing self-government through a Legislative and Executive Council led to full independence in October 1962. Milton Obote, leader of the Uganda People's Congress (UPC), was elected Prime Minister. He was overthrown by former paratroop sergeant Idi Amin in 1971, who established a brutal dictatorship. The Asian Community was expelled in 1972, and intellectuals persecuted. Border tension led to an invasion by Tanzania, with the support of exiled members of the Ugandan National Liberation Front (UNLF). Amin was overthrown, and ill-organised elections in 1980 returned Obote's UPC to power.

Obote's government relied on the support of the army and soon became embroiled in a savage guerilla war against Yoweri Museveni's National Resistance Army (NRA), who disputed Obote's mandate. Growing dissent between the Acholi and the Langui factions within the army resulted in Obote's overthrow by the Acholi, led by General Tito Okello. Okello established a military council but after a bitter battle in January 1986, the NRA occupied Kampala and Museveni was installed as President. A National Resistance Council was established as a quasi-parliament under an amended version of the 1967 Constitution, followed by a nationwide system of Village Resistance Councils in 1989. Political party activities were suspended, though party structures remained legal.


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Politics

In 1986 President Museveni inherited a country where 1 million had been killed by war; 2 million uprooted as refugees; 500,000 seriously injured; and with the economy in ruins. Considerable progress has been made in restoring peace across Uganda and in rebuilding infrastructure shattered by civil war. Both the press and judiciary enjoy a degree of freedom which is rare in Africa. Economic growth has been steady although this has slowed recently. Apart from areas in the north and west still troubled by insurgency, Uganda is relatively peaceful.

A major feature of President Museveni's unique approach has been the 'no party' system by which Uganda is governed. During the period 1985-95, Museveni governed through a chain of 'Resistance Councils', based at grassroots level, which collectively formed the National Resistance Movement. Activity by political parties, mainly the old UPC and Democratic Party (DP) was banned; there were no elections.

In 1995, Uganda adopted a new constitution, agreed by a Constituent Assembly elected in 1994, which consisted mostly of NRM supporters. The Constitution provided for Presidential, Parliamentary and Local elections over the next two years, to be held under the existing restrictions on activity by political parties. The elections took place in May and June 1996, for President and Parliament respectively. These were generally free and fair, notwithstanding the ban on party activity. President Museveni won the Presidency with 74.2% of the vote. Movement sympathisers won a majority in Parliament.

Uganda held a Referendum on 29 June 2000 to decide whether to return to multi-party politics or keep the Movement system of government. The Movement system recorded a 91% vote in its favour, although turnout was low. Local and international observers stated that the vote and counting were orderly and correctly carried out, but concluded that the overall process was flawed because the campaign was not carried out on a level playing field. While there was general freedom of the press and debate and no significant violence or intimidation, continuing restrictions on party activity and unequal resources available to the two campaigning sides meant that the multiparty side were not given an equal opportunity to present their case to the electorate.

Presidential elections were held on 12 March 2001. Violence and intimidation, including by government forces, marked the later stages of the campaign. But local and international observers assessed the voting to be generally well conducted, despite some irregularities. The Electoral Commission declared President Museveni the winner with 69% of the vote. His main rival, Dr. Kiiza Besigye, challenged the result in the Ugandan Supreme Court, but although the court criticised the Electoral Commission's performance, it did not challenge Museveni's victory.

Parliamentary elections were held on 26 June. 876 candidates stood for 214 Constituency seats. Turnout was low (55% compared to 70% in the Presidential election). The elections were characterised by maladministration, malpractice and violence. But overall, local and international monitors found that in most parts of the country the electorate were able to freely exercise their right to vote for candidates of their choice. The new Parliament is again dominated by Movement loyalists (Museveni claims that 220 of the 295 MPs are on his side). On 24 July President Museveni announced the portfolios of his new Ministerial team (66 in total). 29 Ministers retained their positions. There are 21 new entrants and 16 women in the Government.


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Insurgency

Rebel attacks continue to be a major problem for President Museveni's government. Three main rebel groups are involved: the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), which operates in the north with Sudanese support; the West Nile Bank Front (WNBF), based in the far north-west; and the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), from the Ruwenzori mountains on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west.

The LRA, under the leadership of Joseph Kony, is the longest-running insurgent organisation, with links back to the resistance against Museveni in northern Uganda during the years after 1986. They have conducted a brutal campaign of atrocities against the local Acholi population, in punishment for failure to support their cause. These have included massacres and abduction of Acholi children, who are then forced to fight for the LRA. The group practices a bizarre combination of spiritualism and black magic to intimidate its members, and appears to have no political aims beyond opposition to Museveni. Until recently the Sudanese government supported the LRA, in retaliation for Ugandan support to the rebel Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA), based in southern Sudan. Uganda denies giving anything other than moral support to the SPLA.

While recognising the right of the Government of Uganda to conduct legitimate security operations to protect its citizens, HMG has urged President Museveni to pursue opportunities for dialogue as a means of securing a durable solution to the conflict. The Government passed amnesty legislation in January 2000 to encourage anti-government forces to lay down their weapons.


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Regional Conflict

Uganda entered the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in August 1998 in support of anti-government rebels. Uganda claimed her participation in the conflict was in support of her attempt to secure her western border against attack from Ugandan rebel groups based in the DRC.

On 10 July 1999, Uganda and the five other countries involved in the conflict signed the Lusaka Cease-fire Agreement. The Agreement provides for a cessation of hostilities, the establishment of a commission to investigate cease-fire violations, work out mechanisms to disarm militias and monitor the withdrawal of foreign troops according to an agreed schedule. The Agreement also specified the deployment of a United Nations (UN) observer mission and the initiation of an inter-Congolese dialogue. On 8 April 2000 a disengagement plan was signed agreeing a new cease-fire. Despite these agreements, fighting continued. The assassination of DRC President Laurent Kabila acted as a catalyst for progress in implementing the Lusaka Agreement. Britain has played a leading role in leading international efforts to resolve the crisis, intervening directly with all the regional states involved. We are working closely with the UN and the EU to encourage the parties to implement the Agreement.

On 29 April 2001 President Museveni announced his intention unilaterally to withdraw Uganda's forces from the DRC. Over half of the troops should be withdrawn by August.

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Economy and Debt

Impressive progress has been made with economic reforms since 1986, albeit from a very low base (7%). The government has consistently promoted a free-market approach and many institutional barriers to profitable business have been removed. But corruption remains endemic and legal redress is a long and painful process. Public expenditure is under control and well allocated, although donors continue to monitor closely defence spending patterns.

In 1999/00 growth is unlikely to exceed 5.5%. This is below expectations, due to poor rains and lower agricultural growth; reductions in coffee export prices and lower than expected imports, reducing revenue. These problems have reduced the value of the shilling and increased inflation, although Uganda's record in controlling inflation remains one of the best in Africa.

Uganda remains heavily burdened by international debt, most of it to financial institutions. Following UK support, Uganda was the first debtor to benefit from debt cancellation (US$ 347 million) under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC). Last January, additional relief of US$ 656 million was granted under HIPC II and the UK cancelled bilateral debt of US$ 23 million. On 11 September 2000 Uganda became the first country to benefit under the Enhanced HIPC scheme.

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Sanctions

UN sanctions (UNSCRs 918, 997 and 1011) impose restrictions on the sale or supply of arms and related materiel to persons in states neighbouring Rwanda, including Uganda, when the goods in question are intended for use in Rwanda. To implement these measures, the United Nations Arms Embargoes Orders 1993-1998 set out the licensing requirements in the UK for all acts associated with such sale or supply. Corresponding Orders exist for the Dependent Territories and Crown Dependencies.

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Links

The Uganda Tourist Board
UGANDA - A Country Study, American Library of Congress

Please note that we have no control over the material contained in these web sites.


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