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

Unchanged Situation

Human rights violations and repression of dissent continued, while govt kept up operations against Islamic State-affiliated rebels.

Civil society activists and opposition politicians remained under threat. Unidentified assailants 3 Jan stabbed prominent gay rights activist Steven Kabuye on outskirts of capital Kampala, leaving him in serious condition; fellow LGBTQ+ activists said homophobia and harassment have soared since draconian anti-LGBTQ law was enacted in May 2023. Police 18 Jan placed three opposition leaders under house arrest, including former presidential candidates Robert Kyagulanyi, alias ‘Bobi Wine’, and Kizza Besigye, ahead of planned protest demanding govt action to address deteriorating road conditions. In interview with French TV channel France 24 published 30 Jan, Wine called for “civil disobedience, a moral uprising, a revolution” against President Museveni.

Govt’s campaign against Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) continued. Museveni 9 Jan called on Islamic State-affiliated ADF rebels based in DR Congo (DRC) to surrender, and military 20 Jan reported killing three ADF combatants and rescuing eight hostages in Irumu territory, Ituri province in eastern DRC

In another important development. Museveni 5 Jan appointed three former govt-aligned legislators to leadership roles at electoral commission. Amid outcry from opposition, Museveni 17 Jan backtracked on two of these appointments prior to parliamentary confirmation hearings. 

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