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This article addresses the process behind the National Resistance Movement's (NRM) decision to open for a reintroduction of multiparty politics.


Why would a political movement that had been in power for two decades expose itself to competition, and at least theoretically, risk loosing the 2006 elections? Is this turnaround of the NRM leadership explained by external pressure from the international environment or should it be attributed to debates within the NRM? We seek to explain why the NRM opened for a transition to multiparty politics and how the NRM leadership sought to remain in control of the transition process. We do so by relating the case of Uganda to theoretical perspectives that explain under what circumstances political movements, organisations or parties decide to implement fundamental changes. We argue that the impetus for change is explained by decline of support for the NRM in the 2001 elections, where Museveni's former ally, Col. K. Besigye, opposed him in the presidential election and received 29 per cent of the votes. How the NRM proceeded to implement the transition process is better explained by office seeking strategies: Through its control of the government, parliament, and the public sector, the NRM-O was able to tilt the playing field and minimise the possibility for the opposition to win in the 2006 elections

Lise Rakner

Professor at University of Bergen and Affiliated Research Professor

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