Government Politics of Uganda

Last elections: February 2016 (presidential and parliamentary)

Next elections: 2021 (presidential and parliamentary)

Head of state: President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni

Head of government: The President

Ruling party: National Resistance Movement

Amid growing support for political pluralism, from within and without the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM), a law enacted in June 2002 restricted party political activities to Kampala, barred civil servants and members of the security forces from joining parties other than NRM, and gave parties six months to register as a company, which the main parties immediately refused to do.

However, during 2003 President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni publicly committed himself to the reintroduction of multiparty politics before the elections due in 2006, subject to a referendum in July 2005, in which, with the opposition calling for a boycott, fewer than 50% of voters turned out to vote overwhelmingly in favour.

In 2004 Museveni announced that he had retired from the army, while remaining army commander-in-chief. This opened the way for him to participate in multiparty politics. During 2005 the government proposed substantial change to the constitution including lifting the limit of two presidential terms. In November 2005 Museveni said he would stand in the 2006 election, and his main rival Besigye was charged with treason and terrorism and taken into custody. Besigye was then released on bail in January 2006 and held some political rallies.

In the first multiparty elections for 25 years, held in February 2006, Museveni (with 59.3% of the votes) defeated Dr Kizza Besigye (37.4%) of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) in a turnout of 69%. The ruling NRM also won the parliamentary elections, securing 206 seats, while the FDC took 37, the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) nine, the Democratic Party (DP) eight and independents 37. The Commonwealth observer group present, led by former President of Botswana Sir Ketumile Masire, believed that the election had enabled the will of the people to be expressed and that the result reflected the wishes of those who were able to vote.

Museveni won the February 2011 presidential election with 68.4% of the votes cast and his main rival, Besigye, secured 26.0%. The concurrent parliamentary elections were won by the ruling NRM, with a total of 250 of the 375 seats in the enlarged Parliament. The FDC took 34 seats, the DP 12, the UPC ten and independents 42. A Commonwealth observer group led by Dame Billie Miller, the former deputy prime minister of Barbados, was present at the elections.

In the 2016 general election Museveni received 60.6% of the votes (to Besigye’s 35.6%) and remains President. In the parliamentary election the NRM won 293 seats, the FDC 36, the DP 15, the UPC 6 and the independents 66 of the total 426 seats. With 68.7% of the parliamentary seats, the NRM maintained their majority in the Ugandan Parliament.