Brides in Rags! Conflict, Political Organization, Political Settlements and Uganda’s Transition to Multi-Party Politics Since 1986


Fredrick Kisekka-Ntale


Following a long-drawn-out five-year insurgency (1981‒1986), Uganda moved from a crisis to stability where political organizations were progressively transformed, albeit with institutionalized roadblocks. The former insurgent army – the National Resistance Army (NRA) and its political wing the National Resistance Movement (NRM) pursued a post-conflict transformation process, which was essentially driven by neo-liberal reforms, but metamorphosed into a dominant political party, undermining the hither to traditional political parties. Through historical interrogation, this paper seeks to bring to the fore reflections to the questions; “Why did the post war-NRA/NRM undertake a rapid shift in political ordering after the guerrilla war in 1986? Why did the new government pursue a pseudo neo-liberal agenda that sought free-market style policies and nested democratization after the guerrilla war?” These preliminary questions are asked for two fundamental reasons. One; it is common knowledge that in the early 1970s Museveni –The NRA warlord was a Marxist–Leninist and therefore in hot pursuit for socialism as a mode of statecraft. However, he became less of a socialist particularly at the end of his rebellion. Why? Secondly, post-war state-building theory, presupposes that after rebels have captured power following a civil war, their propensity to pursue liberal free-market type of politics is habitually low. Why then did NRA/NRM with extremely negative views for free-market style of politics undertake to institute multi-party politics? What political settlements did NRM pursue and how have they been institutionalized and instrumentalized overtime? What have been the attendant effects of these settlements in Uganda and how can these impacts be profiled in light of other war-to peace states in Africa?


Democratization, Political Parties, National Resistance Movement, Political Organization and Political Settlements




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