Officially: Republic of Uganda; Jamhuri ya Uganda.
Seat of government: Kampala.
Status: Not democratic.
Structure: Largely autocratic under the current president. In theory, the president is elected directly, and the parliament (National Assembly) is elected through geographical constituencies, with seats reserved for women and a small number for functional constituencies.
Governing party: National Resistance Movement.
Head of government: Yoweri Museveni, president.
Chief opposition parties: Forum for Democratic Change, led by Mugisha Muntu; Democratic Party, led by Norbert Mao; Uganda People’s Congress, led by Olara Otunnu.
Assessment: The one-party state of Museveni purports to be a democracy, but does not actually function as such. After independence in 1962, the UPC and the monarchist Kabaka Yekka formed a parliamentary majority, with the UPC’s Milton Obote (1962-71, 1980-5) as prime minister; the Ganda kabaka was ceremonial president and the Soga kyabazinga was vice-president. Obote and the UPC abolished the traditional offices in 1966-7, and Obote became president; he cancelled the 1969 election and retained power. He was overthrown by army chief Idi Amin (1971-9), who ran a brutal, self-aggrandizing dictatorship, killing hundreds of thousands and expelling all Indian Ugandans, in the process ruining the economy. Amin was deposed by Tanzania after seizing a Tanzanian region and provoking a war. A period of instability followed; the disputed reelection of Obote in 1980 aggravated military conflicts against and by the Kampala government (the Obote government also killed at least a hundred thousand), ended only when the NRM took power in 1986, and Museveni (1986-) became president. Political parties were banned by the NRM; all citizens were legally considered members of the ruling party. The NRM’s voluntary membership, though, was primarily drawn from the south — as opposed to the northern-based régimes of both Obote and Amin — and the government faced numerous armed opposition groups in the north, culminating with the Lord’s Resistance Army, which took and held much of the north for years, but was eventually driven out. Elections were held in 1996; Museveni officially defeated Paul Ssemogerere of the DP, in what was probably the closest thing to a democratic contest since independence. The next three presidential elections (2001, 2006, 2011) saw Museveni face off against his strongest challenger, his former personal physician, Kizza Besigye of the FDC; Museveni claimed all three, but none was free or fair. Museveni endorsed lifting the ban on party activity, but on condition of a referendum, held and passed in 2005. In the meantime, though, Museveni prosecuted Besigye on dubious charges.
FH: 5-4, partly free (not democratic). Econ: 5.03 (101), hybrid.
Updated: 2015 March 2.