Uganda Government and Politics

Uganda is a presidential and unified state republic. The head of state, the president, is elected in the general election for five years. He has wide powers, is a military commander and appoints the prime minister and government.

Uganda Country Flag

The Legislative Assembly, the National Assembly, has one chamber and consists of 303 members. 214 are elected directly in the general election, 81 are nominated among various interest groups (including 56 women and 10 from the army), as well as eight designated mandates. The elections are valid for five years. From 1986 to 2005, Uganda had a “zero-party system” in which the elected officials formally did not belong to any political party. In a 2005 referendum there was a clear majority to allow for free party formation, and in the 2006 elections six parties participated. President Museveni’s National Resistance Movement NRM, which has been in power since 1986, received 205 of its seats.


Administratively, Uganda is divided into four regions and 56 districts, led by elected bodies. The local governance is still under development.


Legally, the land is divided into magisterial areas. In every area of ​​law there is a superior court. Under him there are three categories of magistrates, with only the first category of magistrates having full legal education. Cases from courts headed by the first category of magistrates go directly to the supreme court, cases from the other magistrates to the supreme court of the jurisdiction and, if necessary, to the supreme court. A Supreme Court acts as the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Presidents of Uganda

Period President
1963-1966 Frederick Edward Mutesa II
1966-1971 Milton Obote
1971-1979 Idi Amin
1979 Yusufu Kironde Lule
1979-1980 Godfrey Lukongwa Binaisa
1980 Paulo Muwanga
1980-1985 Milton Obote
1985-1986 Tito Okello
1986- Yoweri Museveni

History and Politics

The cradle of humanity

As in other East African states, anthropologists suspect the “cradle of mankind” based on finds somewhere in the regions of the East African Rift Valley. Our ancestors are said to have lived here many thousands of years ago.

Twa and Bantu

Today it is assumed that people belonging to the Twa people were the first inhabitants of Uganda, which at that time still covered large parts of the rainforest. One often hears the term pygmies, a term that should no longer be used today. It refers to the height of people who are very small in relation to others. But they belong to many different races. The Twa lived as hunters and gatherers and are the oldest people in Uganda.

In addition, about 2000 years ago, there were Kushitic shepherds and a little later also people from the Bantu people. These were already farming and settling down. Other cultures immigrated and mixed with those who already lived there. Thus the way of life of the arable farmers mixed with that of the people who wandered around with their herds of cattle.

The Kingdom of Kitara and the Kingdom of Bunyoro

The Kitara empire developed under the Batembuzi people from the 10th century. This empire was important for Uganda for several hundred years, but it was divided into smaller empires in the 15th century. So a kingdom emerged in the west of what is now Uganda, which was called Bunyoro and was one of the first of the later five great empires of Uganda.

The Buganda Empire

In the 15th century, the King Buganda achieved a supremacy among the kingdoms of the region, which it retained until the 20th century. It was on the northwestern shore of Lake Victoria – where it is still today. This maintained trade relations with the Arab countries, so that Islam also found its way into some regions. The Nilots settled in the north. The Arabs also promoted the slave trade as well as the ivory trade.

The Europeans are advancing further

In the mid-19th century, explorers became more interested in Uganda and an African explorer named John Speke discovered that the Nile originated from Lake Victoria. Here are its source rivers.

With the first Europeans came the first missonaries who wanted to bring both the Catholic and the Anglican faith closer to the residents. Tribal princes of the region also converted to Christianity in order to prevent the advance of Islam. More and more Europeans became interested in Uganda. But with that the local princes also lost their power.

Uganda under the rule of the British

The Congo Conference of 1884/85 recognized Britain’s claims to Uganda. So Uganda and Kenya were combined as British East Africa and Uganda became a British protectorate.

In the period that followed, the colonial rulers exploited the land by primarily establishing monocultures and exporting coffee and cotton. At the same time the construction of the railway was promoted by the British. During this time, many people from Asia came to Uganda, primarily to trade and earn money.


At the beginning of the 20th century, the local population began to organize and to increasingly defend themselves politically against foreign rule. But it would be a while before Apollo Milton Obote led the country to independence in 1962, initially within the Commonwealth and then as a republic in 1963.

As a result, Obote nationalized Uganda’s economy. He soon became president and head of government in one person and established a centralized, unitary state with a socialist character.

Idi Amin’s dictatorship

Obote was overthrown in 1971 by the then military chief named Idi Amin. This set up a military dictatorship and proceeded without mercy against any political opponent. Many of his opponents were murdered by him.

He also sent a large proportion of the Asians who had settled in Uganda to do business out of the country. In 1976 Idi Amin declared himself “President for Life”. He leaned heavily on the Soviet Union as well as Arab countries like Libya.

Re-election of Obote

It was not until 1979 that Idi Amin was overthrown. On December 10, 1980 Obote was re-elected, who had been overthrown by Idi Amin. But resistance also formed again against him and a civil war broke out that cost many people their lives.

Several coups followed. The country only received the current constitution in 1995. The state president is now elected by the people for five years.

Yoweri Kaguta Museveni as President

Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has been President since 1986. Even when the president is committed to the country’s economic progress, he rules as an autocrat. He suppresses the press and his security police brutally take action against those who think differently.

The situation in Uganda seems more stable than in many neighboring countries, but a look below the surface shows something else. Meanwhile, criticism of the government is also growing.

No free elections in Uganda

The last elections in February 2016 were not free elections either. The opposition leader was under house arrest, social media had been switched off and the government took action against the opposition in advance and arrested opposition politicians.

In 2016, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni was re-elected.

Uganda Head of Government

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