Democracy and rights
Democratic elections have been held regularly
in Uganda since the mid-1990s. A multi-party system was
introduced in 2005, but so far President Yoweri Museveni
and his party NMR have been able to remain in power, not
least because of the government's harassment of the
political opposition. Nevertheless, the country has a
relatively lively political debate. Although the judges
are appointed by the president, the courts have
repeatedly demonstrated their independence towards the
Much of Uganda's power is concentrated on the
president, the NRM government and the military.
Offers a comprehensive list of airports in Uganda, including international airports with city located, size and abbreviation, as well as the biggest airlines.
The latest presidential and parliamentary elections
held in February 2016 were conducted according to
international observers in a climate of fear. Before the
election, the authorities intervened several times
against opposition meetings and opposition leaders were
arrested on arbitrary grounds. Several attacks were also
made against the media and during the election day
itself, the authorities blocked all communication via
social media. The Freedom House organization also
pointed to shortcomings in the election commission's
work. During Election Day, many voters had to wait a
long time to get their vote, which diluted the
even-so-strong distrust of the election commission.
Freedom House also criticized the state's use of money
to support NRM candidates.
Both the political opposition and many ordinary
Ugandans have protested that the constitution has been
changed to make it possible for President Museveni to
stand for re-election (see Political system and Current
In 2016, the Supreme Court (HD) rejected a petition
from one of the opposition candidates in the
presidential election to annul the election, but in
doing so recommended a series of reforms of the
country's electoral laws - including the introduction of
laws limiting financial donations to political
candidates during the electoral movements and a ban
against government officials participating in political
campaigns - and urged the Minister of Justice to present
a proposal within two years. The deadline passed without
anything happening. However, the Minister of Justice
claimed in early 2019 that some of the changes had been
implemented as early as 2017. However, in the summer of
2019, HD increased pressure on the government and
demanded that a plan for electoral reforms be presented
in court by the end of the same year.
In the fall of 2017, there were 29 registered
political parties in Uganda. Opposition parties' ability
to make themselves heard is hampered by their lack of
space in state media, but also by their candidates and
voters being harassed and subjected to violence by
security forces and paramilitary groups (see also
Current Policy). Legal processes are also used to
undermine opposition politicians, as in the case of
Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu (pop star Bobi Wine), who has
been charged with high treason on loose grounds (see
There is an active civil society, but the activities
of voluntary organizations are hampered by, among other
things, extensive bureaucracy. Freedom of the meeting is
enshrined in the constitution, but according to a law
from 2013, permission must be sought three days in
advance for all meetings where politics is discussed.
Women hold high positions in politics and
administration and just under a third of MPs (mainly due
to special reserved mandates) and an almost equal
proportion of government members are women. There is
some opposition to women taking part in the competition
for the directly elected mandate, since it is considered
that they are already represented in Parliament.
The country's strict legislation on homosexuality,
which is banned in Uganda, has attracted worldwide
attention (see Current Politics and Social Conditions).
This means that LGBTQ people are not represented in
Corruption is a problem in Uganda that has been
shaken by several corruption scandals with ramifications
within the highest political sphere (see Current
According to the organization Transparency
International's index of perceived corruption in the
countries of the world, Uganda 2018 ranked 149 out of
Freedom of expression and media
Freedom of the press and opinion are enshrined in the
constitution, but there are a number of laws that allow
the state to intervene in the media. Journalists who
have written on sensitive issues, such as corruption in
the top state government run the risk of being arrested,
beaten or exposed to other harassment. In connection
with the elections, President Museveni and the NRM favor
government ethereal media, while some newspapers rather
stand on the opposition's side.
President Museveni tolerates almost no criticism and
often uses a harsh tone when speaking about media.
During a press conference 2018, according to Reporters
Without Borders, he called journalists "parasites".
It is mainly the newspapers that challenge power. The
publication of the leading opposition newspaper The
Monitor has been stopped several times and its
journalists have been repeatedly imprisoned. It also
appears that media are temporarily shut down by the
authorities after publishing / sending inconvenient
material to the government. Some of the violence against
journalists also comes from ordinary citizens. Governors
use advocacy laws to silence uncomfortable voices.
Authorities routinely refuse journalists to release
material that should be public
There are several extensible laws that are used by
the government to attack the media, mainly provisions on
rioting, slander and a law on counter-terrorism,
according to which information "likely to encourage
terrorism" can provide up to ten years in prison. New
legislation from 2014 also gives the authorities greater
powers to monitor what is written online and to
intercept mobile phones. In 2017, a new unit was created
at Uganda's media center with the task of monitoring
what is written in social media.
Even before the 2016 elections, the authorities
intervened in independent media, including the radio
station Endigyito FM was closed by the authorities after
sending an interview with one of the opposition
candidates in the presidential election. At the same
time, it was clear that the regime had failed to stop
criticism of the government that came via social media.
In July 2018, a new and unpopular social media tax
was introduced. It has reduced Internet usage in Uganda,
from 18.5 million users in July 2018 to 13.5 million in
October of the same year, according to figures from the
Uganda Communications Commission (UCC). Some critics of
the tax have argued that the law poses a threat to
freedom of speech in the country.
The Ugandan Communications Commission (UCC) shut down
some 30 journalists in May 2019 for reporting the arrest
of opposition politician Bobi Wine at the end of April
The radio is the medium that reaches the most in
Uganda. There are over 200 radio channels. A number of
local radio channels have been started in recent years.
Most of them are not particularly critical of those in
power because they are driven by people close to the
regime. There are also about 40 TV channels.
The largest daily newspapers include the
English-speaking New Vision, where the government is
majority owner. It still manages to maintain a
relatively independent line, except in elections and
political protests. Newspapers like Daily Monitor,
Observer and Independent, contain more criticism of the
government. Several new magazines have been started in
the 2000s, including Red Pepper and Rolling Stone, with
a great deal of sensation-oriented material.
On Reporters Without Borders index of freedom of the
press in the world, Uganda ranked 2019 out of 125
countries in 180 countries. The country has steadily
dropped investments in the list since 2015 when Uganda
was in 97th place.
Judicial system and legal security
The justice system suffers from a great lack of
resources, and many criminal suspects have to wait a
long time to have their cases tried. Although the judges
are appointed by the president, the courts have
repeatedly demonstrated their independence towards the
government. Both the Constitutional Court and the High
Court (High Court) have repeatedly opposed the
government in important cases, for example when
opposition leader Kizza Besigye was arrested and
prosecuted for obvious political reasons but eventually
acquitted. Corruption is a major problem throughout the
In the country, serious violations of human rights
are regularly committed. However, since the LRA was
expelled from Uganda (see special chapter on LRA), the
situation in the northern part of the country has
Although the law does not allow arbitrary arrests of
opposition politicians, protesters and journalists.
Several more or less secret police forces have been
charged with torture and other abuses against criminals
and opposition supporters. At the same time, more and
more police officers are being trained in human rights.
The conditions in the overcrowded prisons are poor.
In many prisons there is a lack of food and the
prisoners also do not receive the medical treatment they
need. More than half of the prisoners are jailed
awaiting trial, many of them as long as two, three
Uganda still has the death penalty, but no one has
been executed since 2005.
There is an official human rights body: the Uganda
Human Rights Commission (UHCR), which can act
independently but whose board is appointed by the
In 2000, the government granted amnesty to people who
had participated in armed uprisings against the
government on condition that they put down their
weapons. Of the nearly 27,000 who had been granted
amnesty by 2013, about half had belonged to the LRA.
However, the Amnesty Act does not include the LRA's
senior leader, who has been prosecuted by the
International Criminal Court (ICC) following a request
from Uganda. Over the years, Museveni became
increasingly critical of the ICC. First, the criticism
was that the ICC 's calls for the LRA leaders
complicated the peace talks with the guerrillas. Later
criticism has been that the court has so far only
prosecuted Africans, and then also sitting heads of
The government and the LRA agree on a ceasefire.
Gerilla wants to negotiate with the government
In May, LRA leader Joseph Kony announces via a video recording in southern
Sudan (in what is today South Sudan) that he wants to negotiate with the Ugandan
government. However, when peace talks start in August in Juba in southern Sudan,
Kony and the other LRA leaders who were indicted by the ICC do not participate
because of fear of being arrested and sent to the ICC detention center in The
Hague. Instead, the LRA negotiates via a group of exile politicians from the
Changed prosecution against opposition politicians
In March, the rape charge against Besigye was discontinued, while the charges
of high treason (ie attempts to overthrow Museveni) remain.
The government is accused of electoral fraud
In Parliament, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) gains
its own majority by taking home 205 of the 319 seats. The second largest party
will be FDC with 37 seats. The opposition parties Uganda's People's
Congress (UPC) and the Democratic Party (DP) win nine
and eight seats respectively. Most of the other mandates go to independent
candidates. According to observers, the choice is essentially carried out
correctly. The FDC accuses the government side of electoral fraud, but the
Supreme Court rejects the party's demand that the election be redone.
Following a violent electoral movement, the presidential and parliamentary
elections will be held on February 23, under peaceful conditions. The turnout is
72 percent. Museveni is re-elected president with 59 percent of the vote against
37 percent for Besigye.
Opposition politicians are allowed to stand in elections
Besigye gets a clear sign from the Election Commission to stand in the
presidential election and be released in January.