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Uganda Politics

State and politics

After more than 20 years of state coups, brutal dictatorship, violent fighting and mismanagement, Yoweri Museveni seized power with violence in 1986. His time as president has meant increased stability and economic growth, but also continued democratic deficits.

Political System of Uganda

GOVERNMENT

According to the 1995 constitution, the president is the head of state and government as well as commander-in-chief. The president is elected in general elections for five years. Since 2005, the president has been allowed an unlimited number of terms of office against previously only two. In 2017, however, Parliament approved a bill that reintroduces the rule for a maximum of two terms after the 202 presidential election. that he will then be 77 years old. All heads of state since Uganda left the Commonwealth in 1963 have been men.

Political parties have been formally allowed, but until 2005 they were not allowed to stand with candidates in elections. In 2016, elections were held for Parliament, when 290 members were appointed through general elections in one-man constituencies. Of the other members prescribed by the constitution, 122 represent the country's women, 10 the armed forces, 5 trade unions, 5 the disabled and 5 young people. In addition, the President has the right among the ministers to appoint MPs without voting rights. In January 2017, the single-chamber parliament had a total of 449 members. 19 of the 290 directly elected parliamentarians were women, while the total number of women was 154 (34 percent). In December 2017, the terms of office of MPs were extended from five to seven years.

Policy

Uganda's political system has been subject to a tug of war between the government, the opposition and the judiciary since the early 2000s. President Yoweri Museveni, who came to power in 1986 after a guerrilla war, countered multi-party systems on the grounds that the party system had previously ignored ethnic and religious contradictions and led to fragmentation. But even though Museveni's National Resistance Movement (NRM) movement was the only allowed political organization, Uganda has not been a typical one-party dictatorship. A relatively open debate has always taken place, and a large part of the elected MPs have been well-known members of various parties, despite being formally elected as independent candidates.

In June 2000, more than 90 percent of the participants in a referendum agreed to a continued party-free system. As a consequence, in 2002 Parliament adopted a law that formally restricted the freedom of movement of political parties and defined NRM as a "political system" rather than a party. However, this law was rejected by the Constitutional Court in 2003 following an appeal by the opposition. The following year, the Constitutional Court also annulled the 2000 referendum. The two court rulings in practice reintroduced the multi-party system, and a larger number of parties have requested formal registration. Formally, the multi-party system was approved in a referendum in June 2005, while Parliament amended the constitution to allow the president to be re-elected several times. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how UG can stand for Uganda.

In the presidential elections held since then (2006, 2011 and 2016), Museveni's main opponent has been Kizza Besigye, who represents the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) and previously was a member of Museveni's inner circle. Besigye was jailed prior to the 2006 election, accused of, among other things, high treason, but released on time to be able to run for office. With 37 percent of the vote, he saw himself defeated by Museveni, who got 59 percent. NRM-O gained its own majority in parliament. In the 2011 election, Museveni won by an even larger margin (68 percent of the vote against Besigye's 26 percent) and the president's party again got the vast majority of the seats in parliament. The demonstrations against increased living costs that the opposition called for after the election were turned down by force and Besigye and other opposition leaders were repeatedly arrested.

Democratic deficits in 2016 were also characterized and Besigye was arrested several times. In the presidential election, Museveni received 61 percent of the vote and Besigye 35 percent, while the NRM again obtained a clear majority in parliament.

During Museveni, Uganda has generally experienced both relative stability and economic development and has been hailed as one of the African countries that has most successfully fought the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Nevertheless, the country has been continuously shaken by armed uprisings in the border areas in the north and west. Guerrilla attacks along the western border were the formal reason for Ugandans by the outside world heavily criticized military interventions in Zaire/Congo (Kinshasa) in 1996 and 1998. While the insurgency movements in the west have largely been suppressed, the rare Lord's resistance army (Lord's Resistance Army, LRA) has been conducting armed resistance in northern Uganda since the early 1990s. The LRA has emerged as a Christian fundamentalist but with a vague political program. Most of the movement has become known for the brutality and kidnapping of children. In 2008, LRA was expelled from Uganda, but the movement is still active in the Central African Republic, Congo (Kinshasa) and South Sudan.

Judiciary

The legal system in Uganda is based on a mixture of domestic legislation, imported English legal principles and local customary law. The highest courts are the High Court and the Supreme Court. The death penalty is punished for some serious crimes.

Human Rights

The protection of human rights is established in the Ugandan Constitution and the ambition to strengthen respect for human rights is one of the government's strategic goals for the period 2010-15. But despite the fact that the national legislation has developed in recent years, work remains to be applied to the legislation.

After 26 years of President Yoweri Museveni's rule, the threats to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of association in Uganda are steadily rising. Extrajudicial executions, arbitrary detention and torture occur, and the security forces still enjoy impunity for such crimes according to Human Rights Watch.

Journalists in the country may be subjected to harassment and physical violence by the police in connection with their work. The country's anti-terrorism law means that a journalist can be sentenced to the death penalty if he is found guilty of publishing "information supporting terrorism". Self-censorship occurs, especially when it comes to sensitive information about the president and the government army. Reporters Without Borders places Uganda in 97 of 180 countries in the Press Freedom Index 2015.

In 2010, laws on domestic violence and female genital mutilation were passed, but abuse of women, including sexual violence, is common, especially in the conflict-ridden northern part of the country. Genital mutilation occurs, but to a limited extent. Although constitution and laws prohibit it, women are discriminated against in various ways.

Homosexuality is prohibited by law and can result in long-term prison sentences. According to a dormant bill, the death penalty is proposed for certain same-sex activities and homosexual harassment is common.

Serious violations of children occur despite the protection of children's rights by law. Sexual abuse of children is very common and rape and sexual intercourse with underage girls make up 60 percent of all crimes handled in court. The offenses are punishable and in the case of the perpetrator being HIV positive the death penalty is punished. In agriculture and households, child labor is very common.

The Constitution prohibits discrimination on the grounds of disability and positive discrimination in the political field, but the laws are deficient and in practice people with disabilities have little opportunity to participate in society.

Heads of State

1962-63 Elizabeth II
Presidents
1963-66 Mutesa II
1966-71 Milton Obote
1971-79 Idi Amin
1979 Yusufu Lule
1979-80 Godfrey Binaisa
1980-85 Milton Obote
1985-86 Tito Okello
1986- Yoweri Museveni
Other Countries in Africa

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