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Uganda

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Country statistics

  • Total population: 34,612,250 (2011)
  • Life expectancy at birth: 53 years (2011)
  • Per capita income (ppp): $1,200 US (2010)
  • Exports: coffee, fish and fish products, tea, cotton, flowers, horticultural products, gold
  • Ethinicities: Baganda 16.9%, Banyakole 9.5%, Basoga 8.4%, Bakiga 6.9%, Iteso 6.4%, Langi 6.1%, Acholi 4.7%, Bagisu 4.6%, Lugbara 4.2%, Bunyoro 2.7%, other 29.6%
  • Language: English (official), Ganda/Luganda, Niger-Congo languages, Nilo-Saharan languages, Swahili, Arabic

Background

After European colonization, years of military dictatorship, and debilitating inflation, Uganda is now considered one of the more peaceful and stable countries in the continent.  Since becoming independent from British rule in 1961, the country has slowly climbed into a position of relatively stable democracy.  Arbitrary borders established by British colonialists prevented the possibility of developing a working political community once the Brits were out.  Despite initial attempts to Ugandan landscapecreate a functional self-governing system, consensus quickly proved impossible.  Elections had little if any weight and in 1971, a military coup led by Idi Amin Dada usurped power from Prime Minister Obote and declared Amin president.  For 8 years, dictator Idi Amin controlled Uganda with terrorist tactics, killing hundreds of thousands of Ugandans.

With the help of Tanzanian forces, Amin was eventually captured and removed from power in 1978.  The next several years were characterized by political instability (yet again) as Ugandans worked to find a workable political system.  A couple military coups and power-struggles later, the National Resistance Army (NRA)'s Yoweri Museveni assumed presidency.  Though Museveni's administration didn't exactly abide by normal concepts of democracy in its promulgation of non-party politics -- his party, known as the "Movement" was the only accepted political party throughout the '90s -- it is nonetheless considered to have been pro-democratic.  Encouraging democratic reforms and stricter policies to prevent the violation of human rights, President Museveni offered a radical change from his oppressive predecessor whose administration was responsable for plunging the country into deep economic decline and social disintegration.  The country was in a dire state when Museveni took the presidency and his administration responded accordingly.

In 2000, a referendum was was held to determine whether the public wished to retain the Museveni adminstration or not.  Seventy percent responded affirmatively and though the outcomes of the referendum have been questioned in terms of fairness and credibility, Museveni was reelected in 2001 and parliamentary elections resulted in 50% of the seats being won by newcomers.  Legislative elections were last held in 2006 and Museveni continues to hold the presidency.

Lord's Resistance Army:

"The vicious and cult-like Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), which seeks to overthrow the Ugandan Government, had murdered and kidnapped civilians in the north and east since 1986. Although the LRA does not threaten the stability of the government, LRA violence at one time displaced up to 1.8 million people, creating a humanitarian catastrophe, particularly when they were forced into internally displaced persons (IDP) camps for their own protection. The Uganda Peoples Defense Force (UPDF) launched "Operation Iron Fist" against LRA rebels in northern Uganda in 2002." (From US Dept. "Background note")

Resources

CIA World Factbook

US State Department Country Profile

BBC Country Profile

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