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Centre of African Studies: Research


Paper Details

Author: Justin McKenzie Smith

Title: "Breaking with the Past"?: A Consideration of Yoweri Museveni's National Resistance Movement, and of Social and Political Action in Uganda During Its Government

Year: 1993

The rise to power of Yoweri Museveni and the National Resistance Movement (NRM) in 1986 heralded a significant change in the fortunes of Uganda. Since Independence, the country had suffered under the abusive and corrupt rule of governments that thrived on the manipulation of sectarian interests. When the National Resistance Movement and its army took control of government, it pledged to break this cycle of brutality and to introduce a process of political and economic reform. This paper aims to analyse the experience of carrying through such a transformation. It examines firstly, the historical circumstances of the NRM's emergence in Uganda and the influence these had on its formation. It continues by considering the record of the NRM in power, and how it has sought to establish the conditions of stability and economic regeneration that are necessary for its programme of reform. Particular attention is devoted to the Resistance Councils and Committees system which the NRM contends is the foundation of a genuinely participatory form of government. The analysis is supplemented by examining three key instances of opposition that have confronted the NRM. By examining the causes of armed and party political opposition, as well as the recent moves to restore the hereditary kingdoms of Uganda, it is possible to determine the limitations within the NRM administration and to evaluate the significance of other centres of political organisation. In conclusion, these two perspectives of the NRM - its self image and the impressions of others - are brought together to offer an interpretations of the NRM in the context of Uganda's political history; as assessment of its successes in pursuing a new political system; and a tentative consideration of the impact that this period of government will have on Uganda's future political development.

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