Uganda: Current Conditions and the Crisis in North Uganda

Uganda: Current Conditions
and the Crisis in North Uganda
Updated September 16, 2008
Ted Dagne
Specialist in African Affairs
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Hannah Reeves
Research Fellow
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division

Uganda: Current Conditions
and the Crisis in Northern Uganda
In February 2006, Ugandans voted in the first multi-party elections in almost 26
years. President Yoweri Museveni and his ruling National Revolutionary Movement
(NRM) parliamentary candidates won a decisive victory over opposition candidate
Kizza Besigye and the Forum for Democracy Coalition. Nevertheless, poll results
showed a notable decline in support for President Museveni from previous elections.
International election observers did not condemn the election results, nor did they
fully endorse the electoral process. Critics charged the government with intimidating
the opposition during the pre-election period, and Besigye spent much of the
campaign period in jail. The election followed a controversial move by the Ugandan
parliament in July 2005 to remove the constitutional two-term limit on the
In the north, the government of Uganda has long fought the Lord’s Resistance
Army (LRA), an armed rebel group backed by the government of Sudan. Through
over 20 years of civil war, the brutal insurgency has created a humanitarian crisis that
has displaced over 1.5 million and resulted in the abduction of over 20,000 children.
In 2006-07, the government of Uganda and the LRA have been actively engaged in
an effort to resolve the conflict peacefully. The Government of Southern Sudan
(GOSS) has been mediating the talks since June 2006. In August 2006, the
government of Uganda and the LRA signed a Cessation of Hostilities Agreement. In
February 2008, the parties agreed on a Permanent Ceasefire, amended the Agreement
on Accountability and Reconciliation, and Agreement on Comprehensive Solutions.
However, the leader of the LRA, Joseph Kony, failed to show up for the final signing
of the agreement on a number of occasions. Kony and his forces are in the
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The cessation of hostilities has allowed an estimated 400,000 displaced people
to return to their homes. In June 2007, the parties signed an agreement on
Accountability and Reconciliation. In late October, a LRA delegation went to
Kampala for the first time and held talks with senior Ugandan officials. In October,
Vincent Otti, the Deputy Commander of the LRA, reportedly was killed in Uganda
by Joseph Kony, the head of the LRA. Over the past several months, a number of
senior LRA commanders have surrendered to authorities in the Democratic Republic
of Congo (DRC) and Uganda.
In late October 2007, President Museveni visited Washington, D.C. and met
with President Bush and other senior administration officials. President Museveni
also met with several Members of Congress. During his visit, President Museveni
discussed a wide range of issues, including U.S.-Uganda relations, the crises in
Somalia and Darfur, trade, and HIV/AIDS. Uganda deployed an estimated 1,800
peacekeeping troops to Somalia, shortly after Ethiopian forces invaded Mogadishu
and installed the Transitional Federal Government (TFG). Ugandan forces have not
been a major target of the insurgents in Mogadishu, although a number of Ugandan
peacekeepers have been killed over the past several months. This report will be
updated as significant changes occur in Uganda.

Background ......................................................1
Uganda: Political Profile............................................1
The 2001 Presidential Elections...................................2
The Third-Term Debate and Adoption of a Multi-Party System..........2
The 2006 Multi-Party Elections...................................3
The Situation in Northern Uganda.....................................4
Regional Implications..............................................5
Attempts to End the Conflict.........................................7
Current Peace Initiative.............................................7
Social and Economic Profile.........................................8
Economic Conditions...........................................8
HIV/AIDS ..................................................10
Regional Relations................................................10
Ugandan Troops in Somalia.........................................10
U.S.-Uganda Relations.............................................11
U.S. Assistance..................................................11
Appendix .......................................................13
List of Tables
Table 1. U.S. Assistance to Uganda..................................12

Uganda: Current Conditions and the Crisis
in Northern Uganda
Uganda, a country
Uganda at a Glanceslightly smaller than
Oregon, gained its
Population: 31.3 Millionindependence from
Population Growth: 3.6% (2008)Britain in 1962. Until
Comparative Area: Slightly smaller than Oregonthe mid-1980s, the East
Infant Mortality Rate: 65.9 deaths/1,000 live birthsAfrican country was
(2007)mired in civil war and
Life Expectancy at Birth: 52.34 yearsethnic strife, and its
HIV/AIDS Prevalence Rate: 6.7 % (2005)people suffered under a
HIV/AIDS Deaths: 78,000 (2003)brutal dictatorship. By
Religions: Roman Catholic 42%, Protestant 42%,the time President
Muslim 12%, Indigenous beliefs 4%.Yoweri Museveni’s
Language: English (official)National Resistance
GDP (purchasing power parity — PPP): $29 billionArmy/Movement
(2007)(NRA/M) took power
GDP per capita (PPP): $900 (2007)in early 1986, the
Source: CIA — The World Factbook,’s economy was
in ruins, with an
inflation rate of over
240% and an almost non-existent economic infrastructure. President Museveni is
credited with bringing relative political and economic stability to Uganda, although
he has not been able to end the conflict in northern Uganda. His strategy in the late
1980s and 1990s was to co-opt his political opponents and, when necessary, to use
military means to neutralize rebel groups. Museveni’s first government included
opposition figures who had served in previous governments and arch critics of the
NRM. Despite efforts aimed at achieving national reconciliation, armed opposition
to his government continued for much of the 1980s and 1990s.
Uganda: Political Profile
In May 1996, after a long transition period, President Museveni was elected to
a five year term in direct presidential elections in what was known until 2005 as a
“no-party” system. Museveni won 74.2% of the votes, while his opponent, Paul
Ssmogerere, former deputy prime minister and longtime rival of the president,
received 23.7%. The elections were declared by international observers to be free
and fair. A national referendum on multiparty politics was held in June of 2000.

Museveni prevailed, with 90.7% of Ugandans favoring a no-party government
system. The President stated that multiparty politics could only be introduced once
a no-party system had succeeded in eliminating the threat of a return to sectarian
politics. In 2005, Museveni changed his position on this issue (see below). The
NRM remains the dominant party, although some of its members openly express their
opposition and frustration about NRM’s leadership. Some party leaders are also
focused on the issue of succession, while new members of parliament challenge the
old establishment of the ruling party. Despite some serious challenges facing the
leadership, Uganda has made and continues to make important progress on a number
of fronts. The East African country is more stable today than a few years back and
the prospect of a final agreement with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) could lead
to lasting peace in Uganda.
The 2001 Presidential Elections
On March 12, 2001, Uganda again held national elections, and President
Museveni won 69.3% of the votes cast,1 while his closest challenger, Kizza Besigye,
received 27.8%. Besigye, a doctor and Museveni’s one-time ally, was a member of
the NRM and Museveni’s personal physician during the insurgency in the early
1980s. He ran on an anti-corruption platform, vowing to rid the government of its
excesses. He also raised questions about Uganda’s military involvement in the
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Election observers, both local and
international, declared the elections to be free and fair, although they acknowledged
that the electoral process and management had many weaknesses. The results of the
elections were rejected by Besigye on the grounds that there were discrepancies and
inconsistencies in the electoral process. He filed a petition at the Supreme Court
challenging the declaration of Museveni as president-elect and sought to annul the
elections. Besigye subsequently lost the petition and said he would respect the
Supreme Court verdict. In August 2001, Besigye fled Uganda and later surfaced in
South Africa.2
The Third-Term Debate and Adoption of a Multi-Party System
Uganda was ruled under a “no-party” system after Museveni took power in
1986. In March 2003, President Museveni suggested to his National Executive
Committee, the leadership organ of the NRM, that the Movement should consider
lifting the ban on a multi-party system. He and his supporters also urged a review of
the two-term limit for a president. According to the Ugandan constitution at the time,
“A person shall not be elected under this Constitution to hold office as President for3
more than two terms as prescribed by this article.” Under this provision, President
Museveni’s term would have expired in 2006, but many of his supporters argued that
without Museveni, Uganda might plunge into another civil war. Critics of the

1 Ugandan Elections 2001, online at [].
2 Besigye fled into exile a day after he met with visiting U.S. congressional delegation
3 The Constitution of Uganda can be found online at

President contended that Museveni did not wish to relinquish power. The President
holds most executive powers. In January 2003, President Museveni told a British
reporter “we will follow the Constitution because that is what I fought for. The
present Constitution says not more than two consecutive terms.”4 Those ruling party
members who criticized the President’s third term proposal were removed from
power, including Eriya Katagaya, the then-First Deputy Prime Minister and a
longtime ally of President Museveni.5 The Vice President also resigned, reportedly
to pursue her academic studies in the United States. In May 2005, the Ugandan
parliament voted to approve a referendum on multi-party politics. On July 28, 2005,
Ugandans voted overwhelmingly in favor of a multi-party system, after almost 19
years of a “no party” system. Reportedly, more than 92% of the registered voters said
yes to a multi-party system, although the polls were boycotted by the Forum for
Democratic Change, an opposition group. In July 2005, the Ugandan parliament
voted to remove the two-term limit on the presidency.
The 2006 Multi-Party Elections
In February 2006, Ugandans voted in the first multi-party elections in almost 26
years. President Museveni won 59% of the votes, while the leading opposition
candidate, Kizza Besigye, won 37% of the votes. The ruling NRM won 202 seats in
parliamentary elections, while the opposition Forum for Democracy Coalition won
40 seats. The election results show a decline in support for President Museveni from
his 74% and 69% victories in the 1996 and 2001 elections, respectively. Meanwhile,
Besigye’s 37% share represented a 10% gain over his 2001 vote share. International
election observers did not condemn the election results nor did they fully endorse the
electoral process. According to the European Union election monitoring group
report, “Uganda’s first multi-party presidential and parliamentary elections since
1980 have demonstrated significant improvements in comparison to previous
elections.” According to the same report, “Despite a number of problems
experienced by voters on election day, EU Chief Observer Max van den Berg, who
spent the day traveling between Kampala, Gulu and Soroti, noted that voters came
out in large numbers, knew that they had a choice between change or continuity, and
made this choice with calm and dignity.” But the elections were marred by
intimidation, counting irregularities, voter name deletions, and show of force by the
government. Harassment by authorities and the trial of the opposition candidate,
Besigye, were seen as part of the overall strategy to secure victory. Kizza Besigye
was charged and imprisoned soon after his return to Uganda to run as a candidate for
president. He was charged with rape, terrorism, and treason. He was released from
prison in January 2006 and challenged President Museveni in the February 2006
presidential election.

4 John Kakande. “Museveni Speaks on 3rd Term.” The New Vision, January 3, 2003.
5 “President Should Listen to Old Friends, Avoid Disaster (Editorial).” The Monitor, May

3, 2002.

The Situation in Northern Uganda
While much of the country has remained stable since the NRM took power in
1986, civil war has ravaged northern Uganda for over 20 years. The situation has
been characterized as one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, where civilians,
particularly children, are the most affected, according to the United Nations and
numerous reports by non-governmental organizations. The conflict and the
humanitarian crisis in northern Uganda have killed tens of thousands of civilians due
to deliberate targeting of children by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) (see below),
although the actual number of those killed is unknown.
According to a report by the Civil Society Organizations for Peace in Northern
Uganda (CSOPNU), a coalition of 50 Ugandan and international groups, more than
two million civilians have been affected. An estimated 90% of the population in the
northern region of Acholiland, particularly in the districts of Gulu, Kitigum, and
Pader, have been displaced; and some estimate that 80% of the forces in the LRA are
the abducted children from these areas. For the past two decades, the victims in this
conflict have largely been civilians, although the conflict began as an effort to
overthrow the Museveni regime. The victims reportedly were abused routinely by
security forces and the government failed to provide adequate protection to civilians,
particularly children in northern Uganda, according to several reports.
The LRA abducted more than 20,000 children over the past decade for forced6
conscription and sexual exploitation. According to the United Nations “the most
disturbing aspect of this humanitarian crisis is the fact that this is a war fought by
children on children - minors make up almost 90% of the LRA’s soldiers. Some
recruits are as young as eight and are inducted through raids on villages. They are
brutalized and forced to commit atrocities on fellow abductees and even siblings.
Those who attempt to escape are killed. For those living in a state of constant fear,
violence becomes a way of life and the psychological trauma is incalculable.”
Although the situation in northern Uganda has improved significantly over the past
year since the beginning of the peace talks between the LRA and the Government of
Uganda, the U.N. Security Council reported in May 2007 that “the LRA has not
released any children, women or non-combatants from its ranks.” Similarly, the
U.N.S.C. report voiced deep concern over “the absence of any concrete signs
regarding the release of children associated with various forces, especially local
defense units and LRA.” The U.N.S.C. report also stated that government security
forces continue to occupy schools in abandoned communities, thereby significantly
delaying the reopening of schools.

6 Uganda Complex Emergency. U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), July


The LRA: Early Years
In 1985, the Milton Obote regime was ousted in a military coup by General Tito Lutwa Okello
and other military officers from northern Uganda. The coup came at a time when the NRM
attacks against the Obote regime threatened Obote’s hold on power. In 1986, the NRA defeated
the Okello regime, forcing the military and their supporters to flee to northern Uganda. Shortly
afterward a rebel alliance was formed, the Uganda People’s Democratic Army (UPDA). The
UPDA began attacks against government military installations primarily in northern Uganda.
The same year, Alice Lakwena, an Acholi spiritual healer, emerged as the dominant leader of
the rebel alliance. Lakwena’s faction, the Holy Spirit Movement, initially dominated the
alliance and also began to make its move in Southern Sudan. After a devastating battle with the
Ugandan military in Jinja, 60 miles from the capital of Kampala, in which a large number of the
rebel alliance members were killed or captured, Lakwena fled to Kenya. By the late 1980s and
early 1990s, UPDA was no longer active. One of Lakwena’s key members and reportedly a
relative, Joseph Kony, then in his early 20s, emerged as the leader of the remaining forces and
emerged as the LRA leader. A major military strategy shift took place in the early 1990s with
the emergence of Kony. Konys group began to primarily target civilians in northern Uganda
and forged a strong alliance with the government of Sudan.
The overall impact of the crisis in northern Uganda is not clear, although day to
day life for many in this region has changed significantly. The economy in northern
Uganda has been devastated, especially in light of the fact that much of the
population is displaced internally and some have left the region. According to
various sources, there are an estimated 1.5-1.7 million internally displaced people in
northern Uganda. Children who are not in internally displaced persons camps often
leave their homes at night to sleep in hospitals or churches, although over the past
year conditions have improved. These children are known as “Night Commuters.”
Education for many of these children seems out of reach, since many are unable to
stay in one place to attend school. According to a World Vision report, Pawns of
The north has suffered insecurity, manifested by violence against civilians,
abductions and displacement. This insecurity has resulted in death, loss of
property, and disruption of development activities. Children are losing vital
educational opportunities; they are at greater risk for contracting HIV/AIDS and
other STDs; and they are forced into child prostitution, child soldiering, and7
other forms of bondage.
As a result of the war and perceived ethnic bias and marginalization, the NRM
government is unpopular in northern Uganda. In the 2006 elections, opposition
candidate Besigye reportedly won 80% of the votes in Gulu. Over the past year, the
Government of Uganda has expanded civilian protection and significantly increased
its budget for reconstruction and development in northern Uganda. More than

400,000 displaced persons have also returned to their homes over the past year.

Regional Implications
Under the leadership of Joseph Kony, the LRA has conducted military
operations in northern Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and

7 The Pawns of Politics: Children, Conflict and Peace in Northern Uganda. World Vision,


Southern Sudan. The regional impact of the northern Uganda crisis has been
particularly hard for Southern Sudan, in part because of its geographic proximity and
also due to the government of Sudan’s support for the LRA rebels. In Southern
Sudan, the LRA allied with the government of Sudan to attack the Sudan People’s
Liberation Army (SPLA), the liberation movement fighting then successive Sudanese
governments, according to U.S. and regional officials. Southern Sudanese civilians
have been victims of LRA attacks. The LRA was given protection, facilities for
training, and supplies by the government of Sudan to wage war in northern Uganda
and Southern Sudan, according to South Sudan, U.S., and regional officials. The
LRA targeted civilians in Eastern and Western Equatoria and in the Juba region, the
regional capital. The LRA leadership and its troops had a permanent presence in
Southern Sudan under the protection of the government of Sudan. In the Juba region,
LRA forces used schools and other government facilities to train and house their
In late 2005, the LRA intensified its attacks targeting civilians in Southern
Sudan, especially in Yei and Juba areas. However, the signing of the Comprehensive
Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005 between the government of Sudan and the SPLM
has threatened the survival of the LRA as a force in Southern Sudan. The takeover
of the government in Southern Sudan by the SPLM has made LRA activities very
difficult. The CPA has a provision in the Security Agreement that all foreign groups
must be forced out of Sudan. The late leader of Southern Sudan, Dr. John Garang,
had the LRA and foreign terrorist groups in mind when he insisted on this provision.9
In 2005, some LRA units went into DRC, reportedly looking for a new home after
the SPLM took power. Military clashes in DRC reportedly led to the killing of 8
Guatemalan United Nations peacekeepers in the DRC. The Congolese government
acknowledges the presence of LRA forces in Garamba National Park. In early
November 2007, President Joseph Kabila stated that LRA forces will be forced to
leave DRC once a peace agreement is reached between the LRA and the government
of Uganda. He also made it clear that the LRA will be expelled from DRC if they
failed to reach an agreement.10 Meanwhile, some of the LRA forces have moved to
a designated assembly area in Southern Sudan.

8 The author visited Juba last year and other towns in Southern Sudan over the past decade
where LRA has been active.
9 Ted Dagne interviewed Dr. John Garang on a number of occasions during the Security
Arrangement negotiations.
10 Ted Dagne met with President Kabila and discussed issues related to Uganda and DRC
in November 2007.

Attempts to End the Conflict
A number of attempts in the past at a negotiated settlement with the LRA failed,
in large part due to LRA intransigence and due to the government of Uganda’s
inconsistent positions. The first serious effort was launched by former Ugandan
government minister Betty Bigombe in the early 1990s with the full support of
President Museveni. In 1993, Bigombe made contact with the LRA leadership and
the LRA initially expressed interest in a negotiated settlement. Prior to this effort,
the government of Uganda launched what was known as the Operation North
campaign. Operation North campaign was designed to deny the LRA support in the
North and to arm the civilian population with bows and arrows, known then as the
Arrow Group. The operation failed and created strong animosity between the
government and elements in northern Uganda. The Bigombe initiative ended when
President Museveni threatened to use force against the LRA and demanded its
surrender. Other initiatives, both local and regional, failed to produce tangible
results. Bigombe was once again engaged in an effort to bring an end the conflict in
northern Uganda. In late 2004-2005, contacts were made with the leadership of the
LRA and the LRA also had appointed two senior commanders, Vincent Otti and Sam
Kolo, as negotiators in this new initiative. The peace initiative stalled in 2005 when
Kolo defected to the government side and the government of Uganda began its
military campaign. Resolution of the conflict through military means has not been
successful, in part due to ineffective operations against the LRA and an apparent lack
of will by the government to end the conflict through a negotiated settlement.
In October 2005, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued arrest warrants
for five top LRA leaders, including Kony. Some observers, while supportive of the
ICC prosecution of these leaders, maintain that the ICC action could hinder peace
efforts. Other observers argue that despite the ICC process, the parties were able to
reach important agreements for the first time in decades. Moreover, many LRA
members and leaders have returned to Uganda under a government amnesty program.
According to the peace agreement, traditional justice “shall form a central part of the
alternative justice and reconciliation framework.”
Current Peace Initiative
After a series of failed peace efforts, the Government of South Sudan appears
to have made some significant strides in brokering the conflict. Following months
of talks in Juba, Sudan, the two parties signed a formal cessation of hostilities
agreement on August 26, 2006. Under the agreement, LRA insurgents were expected
to gather at assembly points in southern Sudan. The deadline for assembly was
extended after ceasefire observers reported that both sides violated the agreement in
October. The Ugandan army has admitted to approaching a rebel safe haven in
Sudan, claiming it was escorting journalists and diplomats on a fact-finding mission.
Meanwhile, LRA soldiers, claiming they feared attack by the Ugandan forces,
violated the agreement by leaving a designated assembly point in southern Sudan.
Many observers remain skeptical that all of the remaining LRA insurgents will
comply with the terms of the agreement.

President Museveni has offered amnesty if the rebels accept a peace agreement.
According to media reports and U.S. officials, there is support among many civilians
in northern Uganda for reconciliation rather than revenge against the LRA leaders.
Nevertheless, unless the ICC’s Chief Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, accepts a
local judicial solution, the indicted insurgents would have to accept asylum in a
country not bound by the Rome Treaty. The ICC has announced that it will not
consider any amnesty proposal until after the successful completion of a peace
Following speculation that the Ugandan government was going to yield to the
LRA’s demand that ICC arrest warrants be annulled, President Museveni announced
on July 19, 2007, that warrants for the top LRA leaders will remain in place until a
peace agreement has been reached: “We are not going to ask the ICC to lift the arrest
warrants. If [the LRA leaders] don’t conclude the peace talks they could be arrested
and taken to the ICC or get killed. If they conclude the peace deal, that is when the
government can write to the ICC to say we have found an alternative solution.” In
August 2007, he stated that if the parties agreed to resolve their differences
peacefully, the issue of accountability could be addressed through local and
traditional mechanisms.11
The Ugandan Government’s continued negotiations with the LRA reached the
critical question of how Agenda No. 3 (Reconciliation and Accountability), reached
in June, 2007, should be concluded. The past year has yielded two other agreements
mandating the cessation of hostilities and the withdrawal of LRA forces from
northern Uganda. In February 2008, the Government of Uganda and the LRA
reached several agreements. The parties agreed on a Permanent Ceasefire, amended
the Agreement on Accountability and Reconciliation, and the Agreement on
Comprehensive Solutions (see Appendix). The LRA leadership moved into the
Garamba National Park in the DRC and has not given indication of signing the
agreement since April 2008. The Congolese army and a United Nations peacekeeping
force have deployed their forces near the Garamba Park and in September 2008, the
Ugandan government demanded that they take action to contain the LRA.
In late October, the LRA sent a delegation to Kampala for the first time in
almost two decades to meet with senior Ugandan officials. Moreover, the LRA
delegation went to northern Uganda to consult with its constituency as the parties get
closer to concluding the peace talks.
Social and Economic Profile
Economic Conditions
Uganda is blessed with fertile soils, regular rainfall, and sizable deposits of
copper and cobalt. Its largest sector is agriculture, which employs 78% of the
workforce and accounted for about 90% of export earnings and 23.4% of Uganda’s

11 Ted Dagne met with President Museveni in Uganda in August 2007 and discussed a wide
range of issues.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2003/2004. Coffee exports make up half its
export earnings and Uganda is Africa’s largest coffee producer. Other major exports
include cotton, tea, and to a lesser extent, maize. Crop production has been
hampered by security concerns in the northern and western regions of Uganda. To
stabilize the economy, Museveni adopted a policy of reducing inflation while
simultaneously increasing production and export earnings. Uganda raised producer
prices on export crops, increased the prices of imported petroleum products, and
boosted civil service wages.
Long periods of forced displacement in northern Uganda have seriously
disrupted agricultural productivity in the region, but USAID reports that recent
security improvements have allowed a number of farmers to return home and resume
normal cultivation. According to USAID officials in Uganda, the restoration of
normal farming practices is essential to the recovery process. Throughout FY2007,
USAID contributed significant funds to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization
(FAO) and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to distribute farm equipment and seeds
to Ugandan farmers prior to the Spring 2007 planting season. In 2006-2007, food
production was better than expected, in part due to good weather conditions.
However, recent flooding in the north and east of the country could impact food
production in 2008.
The industrial sector has also expanded, with real output growth approaching
10% a year. Industry constituted 24.2% of GDP in 2003/2004. The main industries
include the processing of coffee, cotton, tea, sugar, tobacco, edible oils, dairy
products, and grain milling as well as brewing. Other ventures include vehicle
assembly and the manufacture of textiles and metal products. According to the
Economic Intelligence Unit (11/2007):
Overall, real GDP growth is forecast to rise gradually, to 6.4% in 2008 and 6.6%
in 2009, as the government begins to get to grips with the energy crisis. These
figures are below the targets of around 7% set by the government and its
development partners as necessary to bring significant improvements to the
living standards of most Ugandans, especially given that the population is
expected to grow by an annual rate of over 3%.
Obstacles to economic growth remain. Uganda’s heavy reliance on coffee
exports makes it vulnerable to international commodity price fluctuations and poor
weather conditions. Privatization initiatives pose a problem as they are seen by many
to be a scramble for previously state-owned property. Another problem plaguing
Uganda’s economy is corruption. Uganda relies upon international donors for 41%
of its national budget. Those donors, in particular Ireland, Norway, Sweden, and the
United Kingdom, have become increasingly critical of governance issues and a rise
in defense spending.
The late-June discovery of an oil reserve in the fields of western Uganda much
larger than initially estimated has many speculating about the potential implications
for Uganda’s economy. The oil was discovered in an exploratory mission by oil and
gas groups Heritage and Tullow. The oil reserve is located in the Albertine Basin,
close to Uganda’s border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In the 1980s and early 1990s, Uganda was one of the African countries most
devastated by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Over the past decade, however, Uganda has
made significant progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and the Museveni
government is widely credited for implementing a sweeping reform to address the
HIV/AIDS epidemic. According to USAID, the prevalence of HIV has dropped over

50% in the last fifteen years. Today the overall prevalence rate is 6.7%. Moreover,

prevalence among pregnant women declined significantly. Despite these impressive
declines, HIV/AIDS is still a serious problem in Uganda. An estimated 91,000
Ugandans died in 2005, and there are over one million orphans from the AIDS crisis.
Uganda’s HIV/AIDS prevention program known as ABC (Abstinence, Be Faithful,
or Use Condoms) is credited for the reduction in HIV infections and has been viewed
by the U.S. Administration as a model for the rest of sub-Saharan Africa. In 2007,
the United States provided $188 million to support Uganda’s fight against HIV/AIDS
(see table below for a summary of U.S. assistance to Uganda).
Regional Relations
Uganda is a member of the East African Community and enjoys friendly
relations with fellow members Kenya and Tanzania. Uganda has at times had tense
relations with two of its other neighbors, Rwanda and, more recently, the Democratic
Republic of Congo (DRC), resulting from its 1998 troop deployment into eastern
Congo. While the Ugandan government claimed the troop presence was aimed at
discouraging attacks from Ugandan rebels based in the region, there were widespread
allegations of natural resource exploitation, and Uganda eventually removed its
troops under international pressure in 2003. In 2005, Museveni threatened to send
troops back to the region when LRA forces moved from Sudan to the DRC if Congo
failed to deny them sanctuary, although the current peace talks may avert further
Due to Uganda’s increased military pressure on the LRA, Joseph Kony and his
forces are currently hiding out in the Garamba National Park in the DRC, the same
place Hutu extremists gathered prior to the Rwandan genocide. There the LRA is
reportedly planting crops, gathering resources, and rearming. There are also rumors
that the LRA is receiving supplies from both Eritrea and allies in Khartoum, Sudan.
Ugandan Troops in Somalia
Approximately 1,800 Ugandan troops have been stationed in Somalia since
early 2007 in an effort to increase security and put a stop to the violent conflict in
Mogadishu. The Ugandan troops (members of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces)
are the only AU forces currently serving the African Union Mission in Somalia
(AMISOM). Other AU countries (Nigeria, Burundi, Ghana and Malawi) that pledged
a combined total of 6,500 troops to AMISOM have attributed their delayed
deployment to logistical and financial issues. In January 2008, Burundi deployed an
estimated 850 peacekeeping troops to Somalia. The Peace and Security Council of

the African Union announced in mid-July that Ugandan troops would remain in
Somalia for another six months. Army Spokesman, Major Felix Kulayigye,
announced the extension and argued that it does not make sense to withdraw
Ugandan troops simply because the Reconciliation Congress is underway. In mid-
September 2 Ugandan peacekeeping troops were killed in Mogadishu, bringing the
number of peacekeeping troops killed in Somalia to eight since March 2008.
U.S.-Uganda Relations
Relations between Washington and Kampala are warm. Over the years,
successive American administrations have supported the Museveni government as
a reformist regime and a staunch ally of the United States. The Clinton
Administration championed the Museveni regime, and President Clinton visited
Uganda during his 1998 tour of Africa. Relations cooled, however, when Ugandan
troops intervened in the Congo in 1998. Clinton Administration officials were also
critical of Uganda and Rwanda when the two former allies clashed in eastern Congo
in 1999 and 2000.
The Bush Administration appears to have restored good relations with Kampala.
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell visited Uganda during his four-nation trip to
Africa in 2001. Secretary Powell met with President Museveni and opposition
leaders to discuss a wide range of issues, including Sudan and DRC. He praised
Museveni for lowering Uganda’s HIV-AIDS infection rate. In 2001, Uganda
withdrew several battalions from the DRC and by May 2003, almost all of Uganda’s
troops had been withdrawn. President Museveni has also been a leading ally of the
United States in the fight against international terrorism and was one of the first
African leaders to pledge support in the war against Iraq. Despite the healthy
relationship between the United States and Uganda, numerous NGOs and politicians
have insisted that the Bush Administration do more. On June 14, 2007, 44 members
of the House and Senate wrote to President Bush urging him to dispatch a special
envoy to Juba to facilitate negotiations between the Government of Uganda and the
LRA. The letter underscored the many obstacles to the peace process in Uganda,
reiterating the importance of U.S. involvement. In October 2007, President Bush
assured President Museveni of his commitment to support Uganda on a wide range
of issues, including fighting HIV/AIDS and Malaria. The two leaders discussed
regional security issues, including the crises in Sudan and Somalia.12
U.S. Assistance
The United States provides significant humanitarian and development assistance
to Uganda. In FY2007, the United States provided $332.1 million to Uganda, and
is expected to receive $345.7 in FY2008. President Bush has requested $345.7
million for FY2009. The United States provides security assistance to Uganda. In

12 []. President Bush
Meets with President Museveni of Uganda.

2007, the Millennium Challenge Corporation approved a $10 million Threshold
program to support anti-corruption activities. Moreover, Uganda is eligible for trade
benefits, including textile and apparel benefits under the African Growth and
Opportunity Act (AGOA). President Museveni during his recent visit to Washington,
D.C. expressed his appreciation to President Bush for his support of AGOA and
affirmed the importance of AGOA to Uganda.
Approximately half of all U.S. non-food aid in Uganda is directed at
ameliorating the crisis in the north. USAID continues its support for the displaced
children and orphans in Uganda. The Displaced Children and Orphans Fund (DCOF)
assists war-affected children in northern and western Uganda by rebuilding
traditional community and family structures and working to fight the spread of
HIV/AIDS. The DCOF funded programs such as the Community Resilience and
Dialogue (CRD), which focused on aiding abducted children between 2002-2005.
The CRD rehabilitated 7,000 abducted children and reunified and resettled 5,700
with their families. U.S. funding for northern Uganda is expected to reach $106.3
million in FY2007. The United States provided $87.9 million in 2006 and $77.9
million in 2005. In addition to humanitarian assistance in northern Uganda, the
United States has increased development assistance from $18.4 million in 2005 to
$51.2 million in 2007. In 2007, USAID opened an office in Gulu, northern Uganda.
Table 1. U.S. Assistance to Uganda
($ in thousands)
AccountFY2005 FY2006 FY2007FY2008 FY2009
Ac t u al Ac t u al Ac t u al Estimate Request
CSH 15,160 20,648 33,960 39,851 31,778
DA 27,967 23,414 28,445 27,600 35,150
FMF1,984— — —
GHAI 122,741 145,000 210,660 255,000 255,000
IM ET 293 340 283 477 500
NADR-TIP— — 150
P.L. 48064,41058,77022,83923,000
Title II
Source: Department of State.
Acronyms. CSH: Child Survival and Health; DA: Development Assistance; FMF: Foreign Military
Financing; GHAI: Global Aids Initiative; IMET: International Military Education and Training;
NADR-TIP: Nonproliferation, Anti-Terrorism, Demining, and Related programs. INCLE:
International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement.