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President Yoweri Museveni’s growing authoritarianism and the country’s weak institutions are multiplying Uganda’s challenges. Conflict risks at the local level are rising due to uncertain political succession, economic stagnation, a youth bulge and an influx of refugees from South Sudan. The state’s repression of political opposition and its increasing reliance on security responses to political problems is fostering discontent in politically and economically marginalised communities. Through field research in Kampala and conflict-affected areas, Crisis Group works to reduce the likelihood of local tensions escalating into violence. We indicate how Ugandan policymakers can embark on a process of democratic transition in order to reduce the risk of discontent turning into political instability, protest and violence.

CrisisWatch Uganda

Deteriorated Situation

Bomb blasts killed two in or near capital Kampala; army further deployed to Karamoja sub-region as deadline for voluntary surrender of weapons expired. Bomb 23 Oct exploded in crowded restaurant in Kampala suburb; one reportedly dead and several injured. Islamic State (ISIS) 24 Oct claimed responsibility, while police said attack launched by ISIS local affiliate Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). Unidentified individual 25 Oct also detonated bomb in probable suicide attack on bus near Kampala, leaving one dead and several injured; President Museveni later claimed sole casualty was suspected attacker. Police 26 Oct announced arrest previous day of three individuals suspected of involvement in 23 Oct bombing, and alleged “high connectivity” between two bombing attacks. Meanwhile, army stepped up deployment in Karamoja sub-region, where cattle theft has sparked violence in recent months, as 17 Oct deadline for voluntary disarmament expired. Karamoja community leaders 19 Oct agreed on ways to fight cattle theft and improve recovery of stolen stock. Anonymous leaflets threatening violence against local residents distributed throughout Oct in central Masaka region raising concerns about security situation in area in coming weeks and months; latest event follows period of brutal violence in late July-early Aug when unidentified assailants killed over 20 people with machetes in Masaka and Lwengo districts.

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Commentary / Africa

De-escalating Tensions in the Great Lakes

President Tshisekedi’s plans for joint operations with DR Congo’s belligerent eastern neighbours against its rebels risks regional proxy warfare. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2020 for European policymakers, Crisis Group urges the EU to encourage diplomatic efforts in the region and Tshisekedi to shelve his plan for the joint operations.

Briefing / Africa

Averting Proxy Wars in the Eastern DR Congo and Great Lakes

Three Great Lakes states – Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda – are trading charges of subversion, each accusing another of sponsoring rebels based in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. Outside powers should help the Congolese president resolve these tensions, lest a lethal multi-sided melee ensue.

Also available in Français, Português
Op-Ed / Africa

Bit by Bit, Uganda Is Laying the Groundwork for Future Unrest

Economically and politically, Uganda's government’s actions are leading to growing frustrations and lawlessness.

Originally published in African Arguments

Report / Africa

Uganda’s Slow Slide into Crisis

Growing discontent threatens the dysfunctional and corrupt political system built by President Museveni, who is now manoeuvering to extend his three decades in power by raising a 75-year age limit on presidential candidates. As security, governance and economic performance deteriorates, Uganda needs urgent reforms to avoid greater instability.

Report / Africa

Double-edged Sword: Vigilantes in African Counter-insurgencies

Vigilante groups have been successful in providing local security. But subcontracting security functions to vigilante groups for counter-insurgency purposes is a dangerous option for fragile African states. African leaders should set clear objectives and mandates when enlisting vigilantes and invest in disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration programs.

Also available in Français