Freedom in the World
In July 2010, the Shabaab, a Somali Islamist militia group, bombed two venues in Kampala, killing at least 76 people. Primary elections held by the ruling National Resistance Movement in August were marred by fraud and violence, raising concerns over potential problems in the national elections scheduled for February 2011.While the charge of criminal sedition was ruled unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court in August, the media environment remained restricted, with a draft law under consideration at year’s end that would grant the government extensive control over media licensing.
Following independence from Britain in 1962, Uganda experienced considerable political instability. President Milton Obote, an increasingly authoritarian leader, was overthrown by Major General Idi Amin in 1971. Amin’s brutality made world headlines as hundreds of thousands of people were killed. His 1978 invasion of Tanzania led to his ouster by Tanzanian forces and Ugandan exiles. After Obote returned to power in 1980 through fraudulent elections, opponents, primarily from southern Ugandan ethnic groups, were savagely repressed.
Uganda is not an electoral democracy. The single-chamber National Assembly and the powerful president, who faces no term limits, are elected for five-year terms. Of the current legislature’s 332 members, 215 are directly elected and 104 areindirectly elected from special interest groups including women, the military, youth, the disabled, and trade unions. Thirteen ex-officio seats are held by cabinet ministers, who are not elected members and do not have voting rights.