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History of Uganda

Uganda before Independence
The Arab traders  arrived in  Uganda  in the 1840s in search of slaves and ivory. The Arab traders were followed by two British explorers Speke and Stanley  in 1862 and  1875 respectively.  The explorers were impressed with the administrative structures  at the time  of the kingdoms of  Buganda , Ankole, Toro and Bunyoro. The  existence of the  kingdoms with good governance strucutures had a lot of influence on the   British  in making  Uganda a British protectorate in 1894 . The British exercised  indirect rule in Uganda through giving  the traditional kingdoms   a considerable degree of autonomy.

Independence of Uganda
Uganda attained its independence from Britain on  9th October 1962. , Dr. Milton Apollo Obote, the leader of the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC), was elected the first Prime Minister of Uganda.  In November 1963 , Kabaka Mutesa 1 was elected a ceremonial President of Uganda. under a political alliance of UPC and Kabaka Yekka(KY).

1966 Political crisis
In 1964 Prime Minister Milton Obote championed a bill in Parliament providing for a referendum in the counties of Buyaga, Bugangaizi and Buwekula then counties of Buganda which were claimed by the kingdom of Bunyoro. The referendum culminated in two of the counties of Buyaga and Bugangazi opting to secede from Buganda and reverting to Bunyoro Kingdom. As Kabaka of Buganda and President of Uganda, Sir Edward Mutesa II, was placed in an awkward position of signing the two acts pertaining to the “lost counties”. It was upon accusations of dereliction of duty by the President among other reasons, that Milton Obote on 22nd February 1966 suspended 1962 Constitution and took over all powers of State.

The 1966 Crisis.
On 15 April 1966 with the  Parliament surrounded by troops, Milon Obote introduced without notice a new constitution to be voted upon that very day. It was passed without debate and the Prime Minister informed Members of Parliament (MPs) that they would find their copies in their pigeonholes. This constitution came to be known as the Pigeonhole Constitution. Amongst other things, the federal constitutional status of kingdoms was abolished and the office of Prime Minister merged with that of the President and all executive powers became vested in Milton Obote.Milton Obote declared Uganda a republic.

The Kabaka and his kingdom establishment at Mengo refused to recognize the supremacy of the pigeonhole constitution, insisting on the 1962 consitution. On 24th May 1966 the Uganda army under the command of General Idi Amin but on the orders of Obote stormed the Kabaka’s Palace. . The Kabaka managed to escape and went to exile in Britain where he later died from.

One -party-state
In 1967 Milton Obote abolished all monarchs. Parliament became the constituent assembly and later all political parties except UPC  were outlawed and Uganda became a one-party-state.

Idi Amin’s period
On 25 January 1971 , Idi Amin  led  a disgruntled section of the army  to  overthrew Milton Obote. This marked  the beginning of an era of terror and the dark period  which lasted 8 long years until 1979. . During Idi Amin’s rule .all Asians who controlled the business sector  were expelled from Uganda and their business taken over by Ugandans. The  explusion of the Indians and  the fiscal mismanagement and insecurity that followed led to the collapse of the economy.
An estimated 300,000 Ugandans lost their lives through indiscriminate extra judicial killings during Idi Amin’s regime.

The Moshi Spirit
In April 1979, a combined force of Ugandan exiles, under the umbrella of Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLF) with the support of the Tanzania Peoples Defense Force (TPDF) overthrew Amin’s regime.

The first UNLF government  led by Prof. Yusuf Lule as President .President Lule  lasted 68 days. Prof Lule was followed by President Godfrey Binaisa and then Paulo Muwanga who chaired the ruling Military Commission  took over from President Binaisa.

1980 Elections
The Military Commission led by Paulo Muwanga  organised the December 1980  general elections. The elections were marred by multiple irregularities and generally considered rigged.Despite the many irreleguarlities , UPC was declared the winner of the elections and  Milton Obote became President of Uganda for the second time.

During Obote’s second tenure as president, Ugandans went through a very trying period. Insecurity, fuelled by the government’s own security organs as well as an ongoing people’s liberation struggle devastated the country. An estimated 500,000 Ugandans lost their lives in just 5 years of Obote’s reign. The economy was shattered and so was the people’s faith in government.

Liberation struggle against bad rule
On 6 February 1981, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, then Vice Chairman of the Military Commission and President of the Uganda Patriotic Movement in protest against the marred elections of 1980 launched a liberation struggle.with only 26 compatriots organized under the banner of the National Resistance Army (NRA).

Okellos Junta
On  July 26th 1985 as NRA was advancing towards Kampala , some elements within the army ousted Milton Obote in a bid to find better negotiating ground with the NRA. The Military Junta of Generals Bazilio and Tito Okello replaced Obote II’s government.

By February 26th 1986 the “Okellos Junta” was forced out of Uganda and immediately after the entire country was liberated.

Yoweri Kaguta Museveni Era
Yoweri Kaguta Museveni was sworn in as the President of the Republic of Uganda on 26th January 1986. The hard task of rebuilding the entire country and its human fabric began from scratch. The period of sustained development  and renewal began.

1995 Constitution
In 1995, a new constitution was promulgated creating a non-party all inclusive Movement System of government. Under this system, political parties remained in abeyance. An election to most political offices was by universal suffrage. Marginalised groups like the women, the disabled, the youth and workers were given special slots on all administrative units of Government. The military was also given representation in parliament. The aspect of keeping this system was to be reviewed by referendum every 4 years.

In 1996 the general elections were held under the Movement System and Yoweri Museveni was returned as President of Uganda. By this election, he became the very first Ugandan to be directly elected to the post by universal suffrage. In 2001, he was again returned by popular mandate to the Office of President

2005 National referendum
In July 2005 a national referendum was held in which the people of Uganda resolved to return to multi-party politics. The result of the referendum in effect marked an end to the Movement System of government. On February 23rd 2006, multi-party elections were held for both the office of president and for parliament. President Yoweri Museveni of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) won the presidential elections and the NRM took the highest number of seats in parliament. NRM under the leadership of  President Yoweri Museveni  again won the elections of 2011.

Focus of NRM government
The NRM government has  focused on restructuring   the economy through pro-market reforms and increasing the legitimacy of government institutions through political liberalization.

The government is now faced with the challenges arising from high costs of living,  corruption in government departments and some incompetent government officials and the succession debate.

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