Wednesday, 20 February 2013




Uganda history, language and culture

For most of the period since independence in 1962, politically inspired violence has been endemic in Uganda. President Obote, who banned opposition parties in 1969, was overthrown by the notorious Idi Amin, who remained in power until he was deposed by a joint force of Tanzanian forces and Ugandan exiles in 1979. Obote subsequently returned to office but he too found himself fighting guerrilla groups – the remnants of Amin's army and Yoweri Museveni's National Resistance Army (NRA).

The third major military force in the country was the Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA), led by Tito Okello. In July 1985, Obote was overthrown once again, this time by a military council with Okello at its head. The Okello government lasted just six months, a period dominated by fighting against Museveni's NRA. The latter, enjoying more popular support than Okello's UNLA, took control of the capital in January 1986, and established a National Resistance Council to govern the country.

By the early 1990s, Museveni had succeeded in restoring order and a measure of prosperity to most of the country. Presidential elections, comfortably won by Museveni, were held in 1989. However, Museveni resisted domestic and foreign pressure to introduce multiparty politics arguing that, in an unstable climate, this was a recipe for tribal conflict. The government initially worked around the problem by insisting that candidates stood for election as individuals and not as representatives of a political party. In March 1993, the government published a draft constitution and in March 1994, a constituent assembly was elected to amend and enact it. The restriction on political parties was lifted. Following the most recent poll in March 2001, the assembly is dominated by Museveni supporters from the National Resistance Movement. Three other parties are represented – the conservative Democratic Party, the leftist Uganda People's Congress and the Uganda Patriotic Movement. Museveni himself still holds the presidency, having won presidential elections in 1996 and 2001 with substantial majorities.

Many of Uganda's problems in recent years have had their origins in relations with its various neighbours. Relations with Kenya have been fairly good but in the case of Sudan, both governments have regularly accused the other of supporting regional insurrections. Sudan has long claimed that Uganda supports the Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA). Meanwhile, Sudan has evidently given some backing to the bizarre and extremely violent Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a quasi-religious outfit that has terrorised the border regions of northern Uganda by deliberately targeting civilians.

The LRA's 17-year campaign has caused huge economic dislocation and created an estimated 200,000 refugees. The army has enjoyed periodic successes against the LRA, but has failed to suppress it entirely and it continues to cause misery and hardship in Uganda's northern provinces. For example, in February 2004, the LRA rebels slaughtered at least 200 people at a camp for displaced people in the north. Some disillusion with Museveni has set in amongst the population with the failure to deal with the LRA and the army's commitment (which ended in 2002) in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This was widely viewed as reciprocal support for the Rwandan Tutsis fighting against the Kabila government in Congo: the Rwandan Tutsis had previously backed Museveni and maintained bases inside Uganda.

In March 2004, Uganda hosted a major inter-governmental conference to discuss a problem of a quite different nature: distribution and use of the waters of the Nile river system. To a greater or lesser extent, 10 countries, including Uganda, rely on the Nile for their water. This is a delicate and very important issue in this relatively arid region.

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