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World Bank suspended new lending to Uganda in response to anti-homosexuality law, while opposition party encountered internal divisions.
World Bank halted funding to Uganda. World Bank 8 Aug announced freezing fresh loans to Uganda over recently passed anti-homosexuality law, setting aside funding worth nearly $2bn. In almost instantaneous reaction, Uganda’s currency went downward to its lowest level against U.S. dollar in nearly eight years. President Museveni in following days released two defiant statements chastising institution for its “insufferable” decision, while finance ministry 10 Aug told parliament that World Bank move would likely affect payment of some public servants’ salaries.
Prominent opposition party faced internal rift. Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) Sec Gen Nathan Nandala Mafabi 7 Aug petitioned parliament to replace Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda as FDC Chief Whip in parliament after latter alleged Mafabi and other FDC leaders received “dirty money” from state agents ahead of 2021 general elections. Speaker of Parliament Anita Among 16 Aug declined to dismiss Ssemujju, citing opposition party members themselves sharing dissatisfaction with Mafabi, prompting latter to accuse Among of taking sides in internal party matter to drive wedge between FDC factions.
Violence involving Kenyan Pokot herdsmen persisted in Karamoja sub-region. Armed individuals from West Pokot county of Kenya 21 Aug launched cattle raid and later ambushed Ugandan soldiers in Nakapiripirit district (Karamoja sub-region), killing two.
In other important developments. Authorities looked to domestically promote military successes against Islamist militia Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in DR Congo following militia’s deadly attack on Ugandan school in June. Notably, armed forces 6-21 Aug reported capturing two ADF operatives, seizing 150 firearms and rescuing 26 hostages, and 23 Aug claimed killing several ADF elements including one commander.
UK embassy issued terror alert as authorities tried to downplay security risks following major Islamist militia attack in June.
Govt sought to shape anti-terror narrative. Security agencies deployed heavily in and around capital Kampala after UK embassy in Uganda 2 July issued terror alert. Meanwhile, govt played down risk posed by Islamist militia Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) after group 16 June launched deadly attack in western Uganda. Notably, President Museveni 13 July referred to Uganda as “island of peace” where no terror group could survive, while acknowledging intelligence gathering failures; also accused former DR Congo President Kabila of having turned his country into ADF’s safe heaven, which Kabila’s spokesperson 18 July called “simply ridiculous”. Following 16 June attack, Ugandan and DR Congo militaries stepped up operations against ADF cell in Mwalika Valley, Beni territory (North Kivu), reportedly killing 16 militants, including several leaders by mid-July.
Museveni faced allegations of crimes against humanity. International media including The New York Times and The Guardian 11-12 July revealed accusations of crimes against humanity against 26 Ugandan officials, including President Museveni, his son Muhoozi Kainerugaba, and seven other high-level officials; testimonies of 215 people containing detailed allegations of torture were reportedly submitted in May to International Criminal Court (ICC) in support of opposition leader Bobi Wine’s complaint over troubled 2021 elections. Museveni’s entourage 12 July said accusers were “peddling wrong information” in order to tarnish his reputation.
In other important developments. In Karamoja sub-region, suspected ethnic Jie gunmen 3 July killed four, including two soldiers. Internal and state affairs minister 5 July said Museveni’s deadline for Kenyan Turkana herders to leave Uganda or face expulsion extended to September.
Uganda suffered deadliest attack in years as Islamist militia launched raid on school near Congolese border, killing dozens.
Deadly attack on school undermined faith in security forces. Armed assailants overnight 16-17 June raided secondary school in Mpondwe town near border with DR Congo, killing at least 44 people, mostly children, and abducting several others. Authorities immediately blamed attack on Islamic State-linked Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militia based in eastern DR Congo and deployed reinforcements to border area; security forces 18-20 June rescued three kidnapped students and arrested at least 20 people, including school director and head teacher, for alleged collaboration with ADF. As lack of timely intervention despite presence of police and army posts in school’s direct vicinity raised concern, opposition figures including Abdallah Kiwanuka 21 June called for repatriation of Ugandan troops deployed abroad to improve security at home. Meanwhile, after deadly raid on Ugandan contingent of African Union transition mission in Somalia in late May, reports emerged of low troop morale and frustration over ageing equipment and pay gaps.
Random shootings by security personnel continued. Following last month’s spat of gun violence, security guards 4-6 June shot at least three people, leaving one dead and two injured.
In other important developments. After President Museveni late May enacted law punishing homosexuality with death penalty in some cases, rights groups early June urged World Bank to suspend loans to Uganda, and U.S. 16 June announced visa restrictions on individuals “undermining the democratic process” in Uganda.
Assassination of minister by bodyguard headlined month of multiple killings involving security personnel.
Spate of shootings put spotlight on gun violence and weak weapons control system. Bodyguard 2 May shot and killed Labour Minister Charles Okello Engola at his home in capital Kampala. Also in Kampala, unidentified assailants 6 May shot influential vlogger Ibrahim Tusubira (alias Isma Olaxes) dead. Several other incidents of fatal gun violence involving police or private security guards reported in May throughout country. Meanwhile, authorities in Kayunga district said they were investigating 15 May robbery in which four gunmen in army uniforms set up illegal roadblocks near police station and robbed travellers.
Cattle-related violence in Karamoja sub-region remained on govt’s agenda. Military around 11 May deployed additional troops in Karamoja sub-region bordering Kenya and South Sudan, where army continues disarmament exercise in bid to contain cattle thefts and herder-farmer violence. Following recent instances of cross-border violence, President Museveni 19 May inked executive order banning armed Kenyan Turkanas from entering Uganda and asking Turkanas both to return all “stolen” cattle to Uganda and to surrender those alleged to have killed Ugandan geologists in March within six months; pastoralists from Kenya’s Turkana county often cross into Uganda’s Karamoja sub-region during dry spell in search of water and pasture.
In other important developments. Civil society activists 22-28 May held online campaign to highlight brutality and corruption in police and other law enforcement agencies, as well as to expose service provision weaknesses in roads and health sectors. House committee 23 May presented recommendations on iron sheets corruption scandal, calling for three of 15 top officials suspected of involvement to be put on trial. Museveni 29 May enacted repressive anti-LGTB+ law, sparking widespread condemnation. Notably, U.S. President Biden same day decried move as “tragic violation” of human rights.
Far-reaching iron sheets corruption case resulted in arrest of govt officials; military reported progress against armed groups in eastern DR Congo.
Iron sheets corruption case continued to engulf govt. Authorities 4-18 April detained and charged Karamoja affairs minister, Mary Goretti Kitutu, her deputy Agnes Nandutu, and finance minister, Amos Lugoloobi, for allegedly diverting iron sheets that were part of $10mn relief package originally intended for locals in Karamoja sub-region. President Museveni 3 April pledged to “take political action” against govt officials found guilty of “theft”.
Authorities cracked down on Kenyan herders, causing tension with Nairobi. Ugandan forces 8 April conducted raid against Kenyan nationals suspected to be holding guns in Moroto district; Kenya claimed seven killed while Uganda confirmed one death and six injuries. Additionally, Ugandan military court around 12 April sentenced 32 Kenyan herders to 20-year prison terms for illegally possessing firearms; pastoralists from Kenya’s Turkana county often cross to Uganda during dry spell in search of water and pasture. Turkana officials 13 April protested sentence, saying there was “no fairness and justice for our people”.
Ugandan forces reported gains against M23 and ADF in eastern DR Congo. Ugandan forces 10 April said they had recovered three towns vacated by M23 rebels in Rutshuru territory since 1,000-strong contingent of East African Community regional force late March deployed to North Kivu (see DR Congo). Meanwhile, Uganda’s Chief of Defence Forces, Gen. Wilson Mbasu Mbadi, 6 April hailed achievements made by Uganda-DR Congo joint operations against Islamist militia Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in eastern DR Congo, saying “ADF is now scattered in smaller groups” and “can no longer come together”.
In other important developments. DR Congo nationals allegedly led by local chief from Ituri province’s Mahagi territory around 20 April entered Zombo district and claimed three Ugandan villages; Zombo and Mahadi officials in following days held talks, agreed to respect border demarcations.
President Museveni faced mounting pressure amid series of corruption scandals involving govt officials; Ugandan troops joined regional force in eastern DR Congo.
Corruption allegations continued to cripple Museveni’s cabinet. Parliamentary committee investigating alleged mismanagement of National Social Security Fund 1 March recommended “immediate” resignation of Gender, Labour and Social Development Minister Betty Amongi for abuse of office; parliament 9 March adopted recommendation. During cabinet meeting, Museveni 6 March reportedly requested explanations on allegations, which emerged in Feb, that several ministers and other officials diverted govt-funded relief items destined for residents of Karamoja region; police 13 March announced criminal probe, while ruling party’s de facto ally Democratic Party next day called for dismissal of govt officials involved in scandal. In possible attempt to divert public attention, parliament 21 March nearly unanimously passed bill entrenching criminalisation of same-sex conduct. UN Human Rights Chief Volker Türk and U.S. Sec State Anthony Blinken next day condemned discriminatory bill undermining human rights.
Museveni’s son announced bid for leadership in 2026. Museveni’s son Lt-Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba 15 March said on Twitter that he was “tired of waiting” for old guard to retire and “will stand for the presidency in 2026”; later deleted posts. Kainerugaba 27 March said he “will be retiring” from army “this year”; armed forces personnel are barred from engaging in politics.
Troops arrived in eastern DR Congo as part of regional force. About 1,000 Ugandan soldiers 31 March arrived in North Kivu province’s Bunagana town as part of East African Community regional force to supervise planned pull-back of M23 rebels; troops due to deploy to several locations in Rutshuru territory. Ugandan troops also remained active elsewhere in North Kivu as part of bilateral agreement: joint DR Congo-Uganda operation 25 March reportedly killed 22 members of Islamic State-affiliated militia Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), while Ugandan military raid 29 March killed senior ADF commander.
Corruption scandals shook President Museveni’s cabinet; East African military chiefs reportedly directed Uganda to deploy troops to fight M23 in eastern DR Congo.
Museveni’s ministers faced corruption allegations. Parliament 31 Jan-17 Feb conducted investigation into allegations that Gender, Labour and Social Development Minister Betty Amongi misused $1.6mn from National Social Security Fund under her supervision. Authorities 11 Feb arrested three relatives of Karamoja Affairs Minister Mary Goretti Kitutu for allegedly selling govt-funded relief items destined for residents of north-eastern Karamoja region; Karamoja legislators 22 Feb started process to have Kitutu censured, while Parliament 27 Feb opened formal investigation into case.
Govt announced closing UN human rights office. Foreign ministry 3 Feb announced govt will not renew mandate of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights office in Uganda beyond its current term, effectively terminating body’s work, citing progress in domestic capacity to monitor rights compliance; human right activists and advocacy groups, notably Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum, in following days denounced “mockery” and accused govt of running from international scrutiny.
Army allegedly set to fight M23 rebels in DR Congo’s east. At meeting in Kenya’s capital Nairobi 9 Feb, East African Community military chiefs reportedly agreed that Uganda (as well as Burundi and South Sudan) will deploy troops in North Kivu province to fight M23 rebels alongside Kenyan forces; Uganda did not officially confirm plan, which, if implemented, could exacerbate regional rivalries. Meanwhile, Ugandan army 18 Feb reportedly handed over to Congolese military 34 civilians rescued from Islamist militia Allied Democratic Forces captivity in eastern DR Congo (see DR Congo).
Tensions over President Museveni’s succession continued to run high within ruling party; authorities reinforced security along border with DR Congo.
Museveni’s son and ruling party’s old guard remained at loggerheads. Museveni’s son Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba 3 Jan lashed out at ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party’s old guard, saying he would “teach” them that “their time is absolutely over”; deleted tweet after Internal Affairs Minister Maj-Gen. Otafiire 5 Jan responded that Kainerugaba should not “disrespect” them. VP Jessica Alupo 8 and 12 Jan said President Museveni will stand for re-election in 2026; Kainerugaba’s allies next day denounced her assertion as “lies”. Meanwhile, main opposition party National Unity Platform 15 Jan welcomed 40 new members defecting from other prominent opposition party Forum for Democratic Change in move that could undermine parties’ recent efforts at building united front against NRM.
Security situation remained volatile along border with DR Congo. Army 4 Jan announced capture of leader of Islamist militia Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) unit that had entered Uganda from DR Congo and attacked civilians in Dec. Security forces around 12 Jan arrested individual in capital Kampala and seized bomb-making material, said suspect was involved in plot to attack govt officials and linked to ADF. Meanwhile, local media outlet Daily Monitor 8 Jan reported army was deploying troops in Kanungu district, near Congolese border, to prevent spillover of conflict between M23 insurgent group and Congolese army.
Several cattle-related incidents reported in Northern and Eastern regions. In Northern region’s Karamoja sub-region, suspected cattle rustlers 9 Jan killed three Kenyan pastoralists and stole over 100 cattle in Napak district. In Eastern region, residents 11 Jan drove Balaalo pastoralists out of Ongongoja sub-county to Katakwi district headquarters, accusing them of encroaching their grazing land; authorities ordered them to leave district by 15 Jan.
President Museveni’s son lashed out at ruling party amid growing internal rift over Museveni’s succession; army repelled ADF incursion from DR Congo; and authorities rejected UN allegations that Uganda served as rear base for M23 rebels.
Museveni’s son criticised ruling party, repression of opposition continued. In series of tweets, Museveni’s son Lt-Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba 2-3 Dec attacked his father’s National Resistance Movement (NRM) party, saying it “does not represent the people of Uganda”; 5 Dec condemned “those signing declaration against [us] in NRM”, possibly referring to recent calls for Museveni to run in 2026 election. In response, NRM Sec Gen Richard Todwong 14 Dec urged Kainerugaba to “respect” and stop “insulting” party. Parliament’s Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa same day criticised party’s old guard, saying NRM elders should not underestimate younger counterparts’ capacity to run state affairs. Security forces 30 Dec reportedly fired tear gas and arrested at least 30 people at rally of opposition leader Bobi Wine in capital Kampala.
ADF rebels raided villages close to DR Congo, attacks on security targets continued. Militants of Uganda-born, Islamic State-affiliated Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) 13 Dec crossed border from DR Congo into western Ntoroko district and opened fire at civilians, killing two; army engaged assailants, reportedly leaving 17 killed and capturing 13 others. Meanwhile, attacks on security installations continued. Notably, unidentified gunmen 9 Dec raided Kyabadaza police station in central Butambala district, killing two civilians.
Kampala rejected UN allegations about M23 using Ugandan territory as rear base. In report to UN Security Council, UN experts 16 Dec alleged M23 rebel group wreaking havoc in eastern DRC since March 2022 has been able to recruit in Uganda and move through Ugandan territory unhindered; also noted that Kampala denied knowledge of M23 presence on its soil, said it would “not condone any of Uganda’s territory [being] used to destabilise any country”.
In other important developments. UK 9 Dec sanctioned former Police Chief Gen. Edward Kale Kayihura over alleged police abuses under his leadership between 2005 and 2018, adding to U.S. sanctions imposed on Kayihura in 2019.
Govt deployed troops to DR Congo as part of East African regional force amid mounting allegations that Kampala supports M23 rebels; series of attacks targeted security infrastructure.
Spate of attacks targeted security installations. After gunmen 31 Oct shot two police officers dead in raid on Busiika police station in central Luwero district, unidentified assailants 14 Nov raided Kyanja police post in suburb of capital Kampala, reportedly leaving no casualties. Attackers 17 Nov also raided Gaddafi barracks in eastern Jinja district, killing one soldier, while police 23 Nov reportedly foiled attack on Nakulabye police station in Kampala. Deputy inspector general of police accused rebel group Uganda Coalition Front for Change of responsibility for 31 Oct attack.
Army moved against President Museveni’s former allies. Military 8 Nov arrested ten people, including relatives of former minister Maj. Abdul Nadduli, in Nakaseke district, reportedly over gun that went missing at burial of Nadduli’s son in late Oct; Maj. Nadduli late Sept had voiced criticism of Museveni’s alleged plan to have his own son, Lt-Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, succeed him. Security forces 8-9 Nov also deployed at farm of senior presidential adviser, retired Maj. Roland Kakooza Mutale, in Luwero district, accusing him of giving illegal military training to group of over 100 youths.
Govt faced growing accusations of supporting M23 rebels in DR Congo’s east. Congolese parliamentarians 1 Nov and civil society activists next day accused Uganda of supporting M23 and urged Congolese President Tshisekedi to severe ties with Kampala. Adding to concerns, Museveni’s son Kainerugaba 6 Nov publicly endorsed M23 rebels “fighting for the rights of Tutsi” in eastern DR Congo and issued veiled threat against anyone combating “those brothers of ours”. UN Security Council delegation 18 Nov met with Museveni in Kampala and reportedly asked him to clarify Uganda’s ties with M23. Kampala 21 Nov announced imminent deployment of 1,000 troops to eastern DR Congo as part of East African Community force battling armed groups there.
Tensions ran high as President Museveni’s son threatened to invade neighbouring Kenya and reaffirmed presidential ambitions.
President removed Kainerugaba from army role after threat to invade Kenya. In series of tweets 3 Oct, Museveni’s son, land forces commander Lt. Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, threatened to capture Kenya’s capital Nairobi. Govt next day distanced itself from Kainerugaba, committing to “good neighbourliness, peaceful co-existence” with Kenya, and Museveni 5 Oct apologised to Kenyans. Museveni 4 Oct removed Kainerugaba as armed forces commander, albeit promoting him to full general and keeping him as presidential adviser for special operations. After Museveni around 17 Oct said his son will “leave Twitter”, Kainerugaba 19 Oct said that “no one will ban [him] from anything”.
Kainerugaba’s presidential ambitions revived tensions over Museveni’s succession. Kainerugaba in same series of tweets 3 Oct said it was time for new generation to replace old guard; and 10 Oct pledged to devote time to the youth, Uganda’s largest voting bloc. Museveni 16 Oct declined to say whether he would support his son for presidency; also denied opposition Democratic Party leader and Justice Minister Norbert Mao’s claim that he joined govt in July after agreeing with Museveni to work together toward transition of power. Against backdrop of tensions, ruling party youth sections in Oct called on Museveni to stand for re-election in 2026.
Concern persisted over lack of free speech guarantees of new Computer Act. Museveni 13 Oct ratified controversial Computer Misuse Act, which criminalises using computer to send any information that might ridicule or degrade someone. Group of 13 activists, lawyers and journalists 17 Oct filed petition at Constitutional Court challenging law, citing free speech concerns; local NGO Legal Brains Trust hours later filed similar challenge at regional East African Court of Justice.
Cattle-related violence persisted in north, parliament passed controversial cyber law, and authorities continued operations in DR Congo’s east.Several cattle-related incidents reported in Northern region. Despite recent lull in fighting between military and armed pastoralists amid food crisis in Karamoja sub-region, army 4 Sept reportedly killed seven cattle rustlers in Kaabong district. In neighbouring Acholi sub-region, suspected Karimojong cattle rustlers around 7 Sept reportedly killed two soldiers in Paimol sub-county and two civilians in Lapono sub-county (both Agago district).Parliament passed cyber law in likely bid to curb dissent. Parliament 8 Sept passed cyber law criminalising use of social media to “ridicule, degrade or demean another person”, with penalties of up to five-year imprisonment; civil society group ICT Policy Centre for Eastern and Southern Africa (CIPESA) 12 Sept decried law as “draconian” bid to curtail free speech online and urged President Museveni to deny assent and return bill to parliament.Uganda improved ties with neighbours, renewed operations in DR Congo’s east. Amid continued rapprochement with Rwanda, FM Odongo Jeje Abubakhar 1 Sept held diplomatic talks with counterpart Vincent Biruta in Rwandan capital Kigali; leaders agreed to convene Joint Permanent Commission by March 2023 for first time in over ten years. Kampala 1 Sept also paid first instalment of $325mn reparations to DR Congo – as ordered in Feb by International Court of Justice – for damages caused by Uganda’s military during occupation of parts of DR Congo in 1990s. Uganda and DR Congo 22 Sept reportedly extended joint military operations against Allied Democratic Forces rebels in eastern DR Congo for two months (see DR Congo).
Opposition parties joined forces against President Museveni, and latter conducted several security sector changes. Cooperation agreement signed in July between ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) and opposition Democratic Party (DP), and subsequent appointment of DP leader Norbert Mao as justice minister, prompted backlash. Four opposition parties – National Unity Party, Forum for Democratic Change, Justice Forum and People’s Progressive Party – and pressure group People’s Front for Transition of four-time presidential candidate Kizza Besigye 1 Aug signed their own alliance, vowing to join forces in general elections set for 2026. Amid opposition to Mao-Museveni alliance from within DP, police 16 Aug arrested eight party members, including one MP, for allegedly storming party headquarters in capital Kampala. Meanwhile, in rare move, Museveni 4 Aug promoted over 770 senior police officers in possible acknowledgment of police forces’ key role in holding out against anti-govt protests; same day replaced commander of presidential guard after only seven months in office, along with other changes; and 18 Aug undertook major military reshuffle, including appointing senior officers into army’s reserve forces and foreign service. In Northern region, Adilang sub-county authorities 23 Aug said attacks by suspected Karimojong cattle rustlers in Agago district over past week killed three people and forced 200 families to flee. Following deadly shooting by UN peacekeeping troops at Uganda-DR Congo border post in late July, police early Aug announced deployment of standby force to border with DR Congo to monitor tensions. Ugandan and South Sudanese militaries 6-7 Aug signed agreement to share intelligence on South Sudan rebels alleged to be hiding in Uganda and Uganda rebels alleged to be operating in South Sudan.
Police detained dozens for protesting skyrocketing food and fuel prices, while hundreds reportedly died of starvation in Karamoja sub-region. Residents of Jinja district, Eastern region, 11 July protested soaring prices of consumer goods, reportedly burning tyres and closing off Jinja-Kamuli highway; police fired tear gas and live bullets to disperse crowds, and 11-12 July arrested at least 25 people. Renewed protests 25 July erupted in Jinja: demonstrators blocked Jinja-Kamuli and Jinja-Iganga highways, burnt tires and pelted motorists with stones, while security forces used tear gas and arrested over 40. Meanwhile, authorities 1 July released opposition leader Kizza Besigye on bail after two-week detention on charges of inciting violence. Rising fuel and commodity prices, combined with drought, caused food shortages notably in Karamoja sub-region (Northern region), where officials around 19 July said over 200 people had died of starvation since beginning of month; govt 14 July said four of ten people in Karamoja have no food, with shortages particularly dire in Kotido, Napak, Kaabong and Moroto districts. Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) 4 July distanced itself from Twitter comments by commander of land forces and President Museveni’s son, Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, supporting Ethiopia’s Tigray rebels; statement came after Museveni late June ordered UPDF officers to stop sharing sensitive military information on social media platforms. UPDF 12 July confirmed pay rise for senior officers in move seen as effort to quell dissent in UPDF leadership. Meanwhile, armed forces continued operations against Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels in eastern DR Congo, notably capturing major ADF base in North Kivu province 3 July, and reportedly killing ADF commander in Ituri province 17 July (see DR Congo).
Govt extended joint military operation in DR Congo; authorities arrested opposition leader protesting govt’s approach to high commodity prices. Kampala and Kinshasa 1 June extended joint military operation against Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebel group in eastern DR Congo by two months. After M23 armed group 13 June captured Congolese town of Bunagana on Ugandan border, several Congolese MPs next day accused Kampala (and Kigali) of supporting M23, which both Uganda and Rwanda deny. Govt 14 June announced raising defence budget by nearly 15% to $1.02bn to strengthen operations in DR Congo. Authorities 16 and 20 June announced discovery of alleged ADF bomb-making material in Luweero town, west of capital Kampala, and arrest of 16 alleged ADF members in Mityana district, both Central Region. Army leadership 23 June reportedly placed military on highest level of combat readiness without providing reason. During trip to north eastern Karamoja region, President Museveni 8-9 June discussed growing opposition to govt’s attempts to disarm cattle keeping groups with local leaders and security forces, proposed series of measures to curb escalatory violence, which has left nearly 400 people dead since July 2021. In state of nation address, Museveni 7 June reiterated govt’s refusal to offer tax breaks or subsidies to address high commodity prices. Authorities 6 June released, and 14 June rearrested opposition leader Kizza Besigye, who was charged in May with allegedly inciting violence during protests criticising govt’s failure to cushion Ugandans from effects of price hikes. Army 4 June reportedly made incursion into South Sudan’s Eastern Equatoria state and killed South Sudanese soldier. Amid improving relations with Rwanda, Museveni 23 June arrived in Kigali to attend Commonwealth heads of govt meeting.
Controversies over President Museveni’s son’s alleged political ambitions continued and protests over rising commodity prices erupted. Commander of Land Forces and President Museveni’s son Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba 2 May signalled presidential ambition in tweet saying he would “announce our political programme soon”. Member of Ugandan Law Society, Gawaya Tegulle, 6 May sued Kainerugaba – along with Chief of Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) Gen Wilson Mbadi and Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka – for violating constitutional ban on serving members of army engaging in political activities; Constitutional Court 9 May summoned defendants. Police 12 May placed opposition figure Kizza Besigye under house arrest in Kasangati town, Central Region, to prevent planned protest over skyrocketing commodity prices. In rare criticism of security forces by ruling party leader, Parliament Speaker Anita Among 17 May condemned brutal manner of arrest. Police 18 May withdrew from Besigye’s home, but 24 May arrested him as he addressed protest against soaring prices in capital Kampala; authorities next day charged Besigye with inciting violence. Security forces 3o May also detained six women protesting Besigye’s detention in Kampala. Museveni 22 May affirmed govt would not intervene to address commodity prices, including introducing food and fuel subsidies, despite fuel prices having risen nearly 20% in 2022. Kainerugaba 17 May said joint operation in eastern DR Congo would end as planned on 31 May before walking back statement to say future of operation depends on countries’ leaders; Congolese govt said withdrawal was “premature” and called for talks, which reportedly started in late May (see DR Congo). Uganda and Tanzania 6 May signed defence and security agreement paving way for intelligence sharing to ease protection of East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline traversing two countries.
Allegations that late parliament speaker was poisoned caused tensions, commodity prices rose markedly, and security operation against cattle-rustling in Karamoja continued. Following death of Parliament Speaker and Omoro county MP Jacob Oulanyah in March, Electoral Commission 9 April set timetable for by-election to fill vacant seat, with planned vote on 26 May. Oulanyah’s family 8 April announced son Andrew Ojok would run; during meeting convened by President Museveni, National Resistance Movement (NRM) party chairman, four NRM hopefuls 19 April agreed to step down in favour of Ojok. Following allegations from Oulanyah’s father Nathan Okori and NRM Vice Chairman for Buganda region Godfrey Kiwanda that Oulanyah was poisoned, police late March opened investigation and 11 April announced it was preparing summons including for Okori, Kiwanda and opposition National Unity Platform (NUP) leader Robert Kyagulanyi, known as Bobi Wine; govt maintained Oulanyah died from cancer. Museveni 15 April announced meeting of NRM caucus to discuss rising commodity prices; 26 April convened meeting, during which they agreed not to intervene with incentives or other measures, said that it could otherwise destabilise country. Meanwhile, in restive Karamoja region, army 14 April reportedly killed local council leader who was suspected of leading cattle raids in Napak district; army late March said it had killed 309 people in operation against cattle rustlers since July, prompting opposition Forum for Democratic Change 4 April to request that govt investigate alleged civilian deaths during military operation. Rwandan President Kagame 24 April arrived in Uganda on “private visit” in first trip to country in four years to attend Museveni’s son Muhoozi Kainerugaba’s birthday party, and met president to discuss regional security.
Crackdown on critics of President Museveni continued and rumours circulated about Army Commander Muhoozi Kainerugaba’s potential presidential ambitions. Police 10 March arrested nine journalists for “offensive communication”; authorities later released seven of them and 16 March charged two journalists, including author and activist Norman Tumuhimbise, with cyberstalking Museveni. Court 23 March issued arrest warrant for exiled novelist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, who had previously been charged with “offensive communication”. Commander of army’s land forces, Museveni’s son Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, 8 March announced his retirement from army on Twitter sparking speculation he was preparing to succeed Museveni as president; Kainerugaba later that day denied resigning, while army 10 March confirmed he had not applied for retirement. Kainerugaba 14 March travelled to Rwandan capital Kigali for second round of talks with Rwandan President Kagame over restoration of bilateral ties following full reopening 7 March of Uganda-Rwanda border. Kainerugaba 17 March travelled to Egypt to meet Egyptian President al-Sisi for talks on strengthening military relations. Brig Gen Joseph Balikudembe 3 March gave update on disarmament operation in Karamoja sub-district launched in July 2021, said security forces had killed 251 suspected cattle rustlers, arrested over 1,600 people and recovered 160 guns; Balikudembe also alleged 500 illegally owned guns remain in hands of ethnic Karimojong herders. Military officials 23 March announced alleged Turkana cattle rustlers from Kenya had killed three govt employees and two military personnel 21 March in Moroto district in Karamoja region. Ugandan operations in DR Congo (DRC) continued, reportedly scattering armed group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) into smaller groups as rebels continued to attack civilians on Congolese soil (see DR Congo). Ugandan forces reportedly deployed additional units along DRC border after M23 rebels 27 March reportedly attacked military positions in DRC; according to military, clashes prompted at least 10,000 Congolese to flee to Uganda as of 29 March. Lawmakers 10 March demanded govt take action against spike in commodity prices attributed to relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions and Russian invasion of Ukraine. Following death of Parliament Speaker Jacob Oulanyah 20 March, parliament 25 March elected Deputy Speaker Annet Anita Among as new speaker.
Rapprochement with Rwanda continued, torture allegations sparked condemnation, and military pursued operations in DR Congo. Following late Jan border reopening between Rwanda and Uganda after three-year closure, cautious rapprochement between neighbouring countries held. Case of novelist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, who reported he was tortured during detention, including in presence of President Museveni’s son, Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, continued to spark outcry. Notably, over 100 opposition lawmakers 3 Feb began two-week parliamentary boycott; U.S. embassy 4 Feb demanded accountability for those responsible for abuse, and EU delegation 7 Feb expressed concern over “increase of reports of torture”. Govt 8 Feb denied using torture, and in defiance of international criticism, Museveni 9 Feb appointed Maj Gen Abel Kandiho, who is blacklisted by U.S. for human rights violations, as head of police force; move reverted previous gesture toward Rwanda when Museveni 25 Jan relieved Kandiho (long accused by Kigali of kidnapping and torturing Rwandans in Uganda) from his duties and ordered his transfer to South Sudan. Rukirabashaija 9 Feb fled Uganda for Germany to get medical treatment. Meanwhile, Ugandan and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s militaries 1, 9 Feb opened second and third offensive route against Allied Democratic Forces in eastern DRC. Police 14 Feb announced arrest of seven terror suspects in Butambala and Kalungu districts for alleged role in late 2021 Kampala attacks. International Court of Justice 9 Feb ordered Uganda to pay $325mn in reparations to DRC for occupation of DRC’s eastern Ituri province during 1998-2003 war; govt rejected ruling. Arrest of boda boda driver 23 Feb sparked riot in Koboko district, which prompted clashes that left one dead and three injured.
Authorities held in custody prominent novelist, considered restoring ties with Rwanda, and claimed military successes in DR Congo. Court 4 Jan ordered unconditional release of novelist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, who was arrested late Dec for having reportedly insulted President Museveni and his son, Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, on Twitter; 11 Jan charged Rukirabashaija with offensive communication, and 25 Jan ordered release on bail on medical grounds following allegations of torture in detention. Ruling National Resistance Movement-affiliated group early month proposed constitutional change to voting system, suggesting parliament could elect president in replacement of direct voting; govt declined to comment while critics including Norbert Mao, leader of opposition Democratic Party (DP), argued move would benefit President Museveni; president 23 Jan rejected proposal, stating parliament does not represent views of the entire population. Amid ongoing disarmament exercise in north east, security forces mid-month clashed with Karamajong pastoralists in Kotido and Napak districts, leaving 12-year-old herder dead in Abim district. Army throughout month continued joint military operation against Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militants in eastern DR Congo, claiming several successes including arrest of ADF leader Benjamin Kisokeranio 12 Jan (see DR Congo). While formal talks with Rwanda have yet to resume, news mid-month surfaced about possible rapprochement with Kigali after Gen Muhoozi 16 Jan called in tweet Rwandan President Kagame “family” and warned “those who fight him” to “be careful”. Rwandan foreign ministry next day announced Ugandan Ambassador Adonia Ayebare met Kagame; Muhoozi 22 Jan visited Rwandan capital Kigali and met Kagame to discuss restoring bilateral ties. Rwandan foreign ministry 28 Jan announced reopening of Gatuna border between Rwanda and Uganda from 31 Jan.
In aftermath of Islamic State-claimed bomb blasts, authorities launched operation against jihadist group in DR Congo, and continued search for alleged operatives in Uganda. Ugandan army early Dec entered DRC to conduct joint operations with Congolese army against jihadist Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), who President Yoweri Museveni held responsible for recent bomb blasts on capital Kampala; subsequently said to have broken up ADF camps, and killed and arrested rebel fighters (see DRC entry). Military head of UN mission in DRC 2 Dec visited Kampala to discuss UN support to joint operation in eastern DRC, as UN mission expressed concern over protection of civilians; police operations to find those responsible for bomb blasts also continued throughout month: police 6 Dec announced arrest of alleged key ADF courier Twaha Ssegujja and recovery of bomb-making equipment at store he owned in Kampala outskirts. Political tensions rose in lead-up to local council by-election in Kayunga district; police 14 Dec blocked opposition leader Bobi Wine in his home, preventing him from campaigning, claiming he had not followed proper procedure. Poll 16 Dec went ahead despite arrest of over 80 opposition members; electoral commission 18 Dec declared ruling party candidate winner. Disarmament operations continued in restive Karamoja region, army claimed to have recovered further weapons and arrested owners throughout month. U.S. 7 Dec announced sanctions against head of military intelligence Major General Abel Kandiho for alleged abuses against prisoners under his charge; military decried unilateral sanctions.
Islamic State (ISIS) local affiliate ADF stepped up attacks on capital Kampala with sophisticated bomb blasts, which killed seven, prompting authorities to conduct mass arrests. Three separate blasts 16 Nov in Kampala – two near parliament, another outside police headquarters – killed seven, including three suicide bombers, and injured 40. Police same day captured further suspect who died of injuries. Islamic State (ISIS) immediately claimed its affiliate Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), based in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Uganda, responsible for attacks. Police 18 Nov attributed 16 Nov blasts to ADF and in following days arrested over 100 suspects, killed seven, and reported recovery of bomb-making equipment, suicide vest and light weapons. Prior to 16 Nov blasts, police early Nov arrested around 50 suspects for involvement in Oct bombings, 8 Nov released at least 14 of them; 4 Nov killed one suspect during arrest and recovered bomb-making equipment. Meanwhile, President Museveni 5 Nov promised to continue cooperation with DRC in fight against ADF, reiterating plans to deploy Ugandan army into neighbouring country. Military 30 Nov launched air and artillery raids against ADF on Congolese soil in operation reportedly agreed with Congolese forces. Tensions ran high in Karamoja sub-region amid disarmament operations. Army 17 Nov promised more forceful approach as 90-day grace period – during which locals were encouraged to voluntarily surrender their guns to security forces – expired; locals reportedly preparing to resist forced disarmament.
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.
Govt stepped up efforts to combat insecurity in parts of Central and Northern regions. Minister for Presidency Milly Babirye Babalanda 3 Sept warned wave of machete killings, which has left around 30 dead since July, could spread beyond Central region’s Greater Masaka area; police 13 Sept however said “peace and security has been restored in the Greater Masaka districts of Lwengo and Masaka” with no attack recorded since 2 Sept. Authorities 7 Sept detained two opposition National Unity Platform MPs on charges of murder and attempted murder in relation to recent killings; 15 Sept amended charges to include terrorism; defendants’ lawyer accused govt of “political persecution”. Authorities 20 Sept granted bail to MPs but rearrested them soon after on murder charges; in response, some opposition lawmakers 28 Sept started boycotting parliament’s plenaries. In North region, cattle raiders in Karamoja sub-region displayed unprecedented coordination and daring despite disarmament operation launched mid-July; notably, group of 60 rustlers 12 Sept stole 158 cows in director of public prosecution’s home village in Nabilatuk district. President Museveni mid-month visited area, pledged to increase security forces’ capacity and number of state attorneys; transfer of troops from other regions reported as of 8 Sept. Meanwhile in Western region, unidentified individuals 2 Sept reportedly killed acting chairman of ruling National Resistance Movement in Ntoroko district, after kidnapping him in Fort Portal city.
Clampdown on civil society intensified, security forces foiled suicide bomb attack, and unidentified assailants killed dozens in south. Govt 20 Aug suspended 54 NGOs for alleged non-compliance with laws and regulations; 15 face indefinite suspension, including prominent rights group Chapter Four, which immediately denied any “unlawful conduct”. Security forces 26 Aug reportedly arrested individual in northern Pader town on suspicions of planning suicide bombing at funeral of top police and army commander Paul Lokech next day; President Museveni 27 Aug blamed rebel group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). In south, local authorities 27 Aug said unidentified assailants had killed 21 people with machetes since 22 July in Masaka and Lwengo districts; same day announced 38 suspects arrested. Museveni 3 Aug met king of powerful Baganda tribe Ronald Muwenda Mutebi in capital Kampala after govt announced plan to amend Buganda tribal kingdom’s land tenure system; reform plan allegedly part of Museveni’s attempt to weaken kingdom and bring Baganda people under his control after they failed to vote for him in last presidential election. Tensions ran high in Karamoja region (north east) over illegal guns, as forceful disarmament of ethnic Karimojong herders launched mid-July continued; defence forces 16 Aug said operation had led to 322 arrests so far.
Armed forces repelled attack by suspected Congolese rebels in north west, and President Museveni replaced top civil servants by close allies. After assassination attempt against Transport Minister and former chief of defence forces Gen. Katumba Wamala in June, police 1 July claimed attackers had been trained in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s North Kivu province by armed group Allied Democratic Forces with alleged links to Islamic State (ISIS); eight suspects 15 July filed complaint against govt and deputy inspector general of police, claiming they were tortured while in police custody. In Zombo district (north west) at border with DRC, armed forces 16 July repelled attack by suspected Cooperation for the Development of Congo rebels; six assailants and one soldier killed. Following army and cabinet reshuffles in June, Museveni 15 July retired seven top civil servants and appointed several close allies to new positions, including his son-in-law Odrek Rwabwogo as presidential adviser for special duties. Meanwhile, govt 23 July signed deal with Russian company to install tracking devices on all public and private vehicles as part of anti-crime measures; opposition and rights activists immediately denounced plan as violation of individual rights and attempt by govt to watch over critics, while lawyer Hassan Male Mabirizi 26 July filed lawsuit against govt at High Court.
Former army chief survived assassination attempt and President Museveni reshuffled military and cabinet. Unidentified assailants 1 June opened fire on vehicle of transport minister and former chief of defence forces, Gen Katumba Wamala, in capital Kampala, wounding him and killing his daughter and driver; assassination attempt believed to be related to behind-the-scenes battles among different political factions to succeed Museveni. Following re-election earlier this year, Museveni 8 June appointed 82-member cabinet including 12 former and serving military officers in alleged attempt to pave way for his son, Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, to take up senior govt position; Museveni also swapped long-time allies for junior ministers and appointed women as VP and PM. Museveni 24 June reshuffled military, appointing loyalists to top leadership positions and naming his son commander of land forces. Govt 8 June blacklisted or suspended six NGOs for alleged fraud. Relations with Rwanda remained tense: Rwandan army 12 June arrested Ugandan soldier for allegedly straying into Rwandan territory, before releasing him next day; Ugandan authorities 14 June sent protest note, claimed incident occurred on Ugandan soil. Amid record COVID-19 cases, Museveni 18 June imposed 42-day lockdown; in following days, police reportedly arrested in Kampala over 200 people who were carrying on their business activities despite lockdown measures.
President Museveni sworn in for sixth term amid massive military deployment in and around capital Kampala. In run-up to Museveni’s inauguration 12 May, security forces early May arrested at least 41 people for allegedly planning to disrupt ceremony and 10 May surrounded homes of opposition National Unity Platform (NUP) leader Bobi Wine and Forum for Democratic Change leader Kizza Besigye in Kampala. In inaugural address, Museveni accused western govts of interfering in domestic affairs of African nations to serve their own interests. In contentious parliament speaker election setting two of Museveni’s National Resistance Movement MPs against each other, Jacob Oulanyah 24 May defeated incumbent Rebecca Kadaga. Meanwhile, DR Congo’s govt 12 May announced joint operation with Ugandan army against armed group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in eastern DR Congo, days after Congolese President Tshisekedi introduced martial law in North Kivu and Ituri provinces to stem rising violence; Ugandan military 17 May said both countries had agreed to share intelligence and coordinate anti-ADF operations (see DR Congo). International Criminal Court 6 Maysentenced former commander of rebel group Lord’s Resistance Army Dominic Ongwen to 25 years in prison for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in northern Uganda in early 2000s.
Govt faced mounting international pressure to end crackdown on dissent and improve democratic credentials. UN human rights expert panel 13 April urged govt to “immediately stop the brutal crackdown on its political opponents”, called for investigation into “allegations of extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrest and detention, enforced disappearance, torture and ill treatment” in lead-up to and after general elections held in Jan. FM Sam Kutesa same day denied security forces’ involvement in abductions, said authorities would launch investigations and prosecute anyone suspected of wrongdoings. Meanwhile, U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 16 April announced visa restrictions on Ugandans “believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic process” during recent electoral process. Govt immediately decried move as “unfortunate”, while opposition leader Bobi Wine 19 April welcomed sanctions and called on other countries to follow suit. In north, ethnic Karimojong cattle raiders 2 April attacked Nalemupal village, Moroto district, killing seven-year-old and injuring two other persons.
Opposition continued to challenge results of Jan presidential election as crackdown on dissent persisted. Opposition National Unity Platform (NUP) leader Bobi Wine 9 March called for peaceful protest against President Museveni’s re-election, claimed NUP’s own tally showed Wine had won 54.19% of votes in Jan election. In capital Kampala, security forces 15 March briefly arrested Wine during protest against continued detention of NUP supporters and later heavily surrounded Wine’s home. Wine next day petitioned Chief of Defence Forces Gen David Muhoozi to release NUP members under military detention and end military trials of civilians. High Court in Kampala 16 March dismissed torture claims by 49 jailed NUP supporters, citing lack of evidence. NGO Human Rights Watch 11 March called on govt “to end the ongoing abductions by suspected state agents and cease the unlawful detention without trial of opposition supporters”. Museveni 18 March filed defamation case against local media Daily Monitor, which had alleged that Museveni and inner circle had received COVID-19 vaccines in Feb, prior to vaccination of health-care workers and vulnerable groups. Police 21 March detained U.S. citizen in Kitebutura village in west for suspected involvement in “anti-govt subversive activities”. In north, armed forces 7 March killed at least ten semi-nomadic Karamojong cattle raiders in Moroto district.
Opposition continued to challenge President Museveni’s re-election, and accused govt of human rights violations. Prominent academic and political activist Stella Nyanzi early Feb said she had fled to neighbouring Kenya late Jan, citing govt’s crackdown on dissent. Opposition National Unity Platform (NUP) leader Bobi Wine 1 Feb lodged complaint with Supreme Court against outcome of 14 Jan presidential election; after Supreme Court 16 Feb rejected additional evidence submitted by Wine on grounds of missed deadline, Wine 22 Feb withdrew petition, citing court’s “unprecedented bias, partiality and double standards”. U.S. State Department 23 Feb called for “credible” investigations into election-related incidents, said U.S. would consider “range of targeted options” to ensure those responsible are held accountable. Meanwhile, Wine 2 Feb claimed around 3,000 NUP supporters had been arrested or abducted by authorities since deadly clashes erupted between NUP protesters and security forces in Nov; 15 Feb released list of 243 people allegedly abducted by security forces under Museveni regime. In response, parliament 4 Feb summoned Internal Affairs Minister General Jeje Odongo, who denied any govt wrongdoing. In national address, Museveni 13 Feb dismissed abduction claims. Military court 15 Feb denied bail to 36 NUP supporters. Wine 17 Feb petitioned UN Human Rights Office in capital Kampala over alleged human rights abuses and abductions of his supporters in run-up to and following elections; security forces same day attacked journalists covering petition delivery, leaving at least four severely injured; U.S. Ambassador to Uganda Natalie E. Brown immediately condemned violence against journalists and called for transparent investigation. Military court next day sentenced seven members of military police to up to three months’ detention for involvement in violence. Meanwhile, govt 10 Feb partially lifted social media ban imposed ahead of last month’s election; Facebook however remained blocked. Earlier in month, International Criminal Court 4 Feb found former commander of armed group Lord’s Resistance Army Dominic Ongwen guilty of 61 war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in early 2000s; Ongwen’s lawyer 8 Feb appealed ruling.
General elections 14 Jan held amid violent crackdown and internet shutdown; electoral commission declared victory of President Museveni, which opposition rejected. Police 6 Jan reportedly fired live bullets at convoy of Forum for Democratic Change presidential candidate Patrick Amuriat Oboi in Kitagwenda district; 2 and 10 Jan briefly detained Amuriat for allegedly defying police directives and violating traffic rules in Nakasongola and Mpigi districts, respectively. Police 7 Jan dragged opposition National Unity Platform leader and presidential hopeful Bobi Wine out of his car in Namayingo district, reportedly firing tear gas and live bullets; Wine was giving online press conference to announce he had filed complaint with International Criminal Court against President Museveni and nine security officials over alleged incitement to murder, arrests and beatings. Facebook 11 Jan took down alleged fake pro-govt accounts. Uganda Communications Commission next day directed telecommunications providers to block access to social media, and 13 Jan shut down Internet. Elections 14 Jan proceeded without major security incident; security forces next day put Wine under de facto house arrest in capital Kampala. Electoral commission 16 Jan announced Museveni’s re-election with 59% of vote against Wine’s 35%; said ruling party National Resistance Movement (NRM) won 310 of 529 seats in parliament. Wine immediately rejected results and accused govt of electoral fraud. Protests against election results erupted same day in Luwero and Masaka districts; security forces reportedly killed two and arrested 23. Govt 18 Jan partially restored Internet access. High Court in Kampala 25 Jan ruled Wine’s house arrest illegal, reportedly prompting security forces to withdraw next day. Meanwhile in Wakiso district, supporters of ruling NRM and opposition Democratic Party 26 Jan took to streets in Entebbe town to contest election of independent candidate Fabrice Rulinda as Entebbe mayor previous day; security forces reportedly fired teargas and live bullets, leaving NRM local official Eric Kyeyune dead and several others injured.
Political tensions ran high ahead of 14 Jan general elections, and violent crackdown on opposition could further escalate in coming weeks. Police 1 Dec fired tear gas and rubber bullets at opposition National Unity Platform (NUP) leader and presidential hopeful Bobi Wine and his supporters in Kayunga district, leaving several injured; security forces same day blocked Wine and supporters on their way to campaign venue in neighbouring Jinja district, reportedly firing live bullets at Wine’s car. Ruling party National Resistance Movement (NRM) supporters 4 Dec clashed with opposition Democratic Party (DP) supporters in Kyotera district; police reportedly intervened, killing DP supporter and injuring at least two others. Police 4 and 27 Dec arrested Forum for Democratic Change presidential candidate Patrick Amuriat Oboi for allegedly disobeying police orders in Bushenyi district and violating COVID-19-related campaign ban in Jinja district, respectively. Security forces 27 Dec clashed with Wine and his supporters in Masaka district, leaving Wine’s bodyguard dead and at least two journalists injured. Police 30 Dec arrested Wine in Kalangala district on grounds of COVID-19-related campaign ban, sparking protests; police reportedly fired tear gas to disperse crowd. Govt early Dec froze bank accounts of at least four NGOs involved in election-monitoring activities; after 9 Dec asked U.S.-based technology company Google to shut down 14 YouTube channels for allegedly inciting riots, Google representative 16 Dec said removal of channels would require court order. Uganda Media Council 10 Dec directed all journalists to reapply for accreditation in order “to sanitise the industry”, prompting outcry from Uganda Editors’ Guild and African Centre for Media Excellence. President Museveni 16 Dec appointed his son Lieutenant General Muhoozi Kainerugaba to head of Special Forces Command. Police 22 Dec arrested prominent human rights lawyer and activist Nicholas Opiyo in Kampala on suspicions of money laundering along with three other lawyers and NUP official; High Court 30 Dec released Opiyo on bail. UN human rights experts 29 Dec urged govt to curb “election-related violence” and “crackdown” on political opponents and activists.
Deadly violence erupted ahead of early 2021 general elections. Clashes between security forces and supporters of opposition National Unity Platform leader and presidential hopeful Bobi Wine 18-20 Nov left over 50 people dead across country, most of them in capital Kampala; crowd was protesting Wine’s 18 Oct arrest, second in two weeks, on grounds of violating COVID-19-related restrictions on in-person campaigning; Wine released on bail 20 Nov. Earlier in month, electoral commission 3 Nov cleared 11 candidates to run for president, including incumbent President Museveni, Wine and Forum for Democratic Change party nominee Patrick Amuriat Oboi. Police same day briefly detained Wine and Amuriat, used teargas and reportedly fired shots to disperse opposition supporters who had gathered around their respective party offices in capital Kampala, leaving seven injured including police officers. Electoral commission 4 Nov said presidential and legislative elections would take place 14 Jan. Police 14 Nov reportedly denied Wine access to Ateker FM radio studios; Wine same day denounced double standards in application of COVID-19 restrictions, saying “our people are brutalized, teargassed and arrested for gathering” while President Museveni “parades [supporters] on streets under police protection.” Police 17-18 Nov briefly detained Amuriat in Kitgum town and Gulu city, Northern region, used teargas to disperse his supporters. Museveni 29 Nov called opposition parties “criminal gangs” to be dealt with.
Authorities continued to harass opposition through legal means ahead of early 2021 general elections. Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) 7 Oct criticised electoral commission for lack of prompt reaction to Sept election-related violence, said violence could escalate in run-up to elections. Main opposition party Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) 8 Oct endorsed party president Patrick Amuriat Oboi as presidential flag bearer; other opposition party also chose respective presidential candidates throughout month. Police and military 14 Oct raided headquarters of opposition National Unity Party (NUP) in capital Kampala, seized campaign material and arrested party leader and presidential hopeful Bobi Wine along with more than 130 of his supporters for using red berets, which are akin to military uniforms, as campaign symbol; Wine released later that day. Information Minister Judith Nabakooba 18 Oct urged nominated candidates to abide by electoral commission’s ban on in-person campaigning amid COVID-19 pandemic. Opposition throughout month continued to denounce double standard in implementation of directive, saying security forces do not disperse ruling party National Resistance Movement’s rallies. Police 12 Oct resumed enforcing COVID-19 nightly curfew in Kampala. South Sudanese and Ugandan soldiers 27 Oct clashed along common border, reportedly leaving two dead on each side.