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Museveni - 1986–1996: The early years

The post independence regimes in Uganda were characterized by corruption, factionalism, extra-judicial killings and an inability to restore law and order and acquire popular legitimacy. Museveni needed to avoid repeating these mistakes if his new government was not to suffer the same fate. The NRM declared a four-year interim government, composed of a broader ethnic base than its predecessors. The representatives of the various factions were nevertheless hand-picked by Museveni.

Although Museveni was committed to establishing a functioning democracy, he initially enacted restrictions on political party activity. Museveni argued that Uganda was too fraught with ethnic and religious divisions to allow traditional party competition, citing the sectarian violence which had overshadowed Uganda’s recent history as evidence.

The NRM non-party system did not prohibit political parties, but prevented them from fielding candidates directly in elections. The “Movement System”, which Museveni argued was the best vehicle for competitive politics in this ethnically fractured society, quickly gained the loyalty of many Ugandans. The Movement System would be the cornerstone in Ugandan politics for nearly twenty years.

A system of Resistance Councils (RCs), directly elected at the parish level, was established to manage local affairs, including the equitable distribution of fixed-price commodities. The election of Resistance Council representatives was the first direct experience many Ugandans had with democracy after many decades of varying levels of authoritarianism, and the replication of the structure up to the district level has been credited with helping people at the local level understand how democracy works.

The new government enjoyed widespread international support, and the economy that had been damaged by the civil war began to recover as Museveni initiated economic policies designed to combat key problems such as hyper inflation and the balance of payments. Abandoning his erstwhile Marxist viewpoint, Museveni embraced the neo-liberal structural adjustment programmes advocated for by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Uganda began participating in an IMF Economic Recovery Program in 1987. Its objectives included the restoration of incentives in order to encourage growth, investment, employment and exports. Furthermore the ERP sought to promote the diversification of trade with particular emphasis on export promotion, it argued for the removal of bureaucratic constraints (red tape) and government’s divestment from ailing public enterprises so as to enhance sustainable economic growth through the private sector.

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Page last modified: 04-06-2015 21:05:13 ZULU