This article addresses the process behind the decision of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) to reintroduce multiparty politics in Uganda. Restrictions on party activity were introduced when the NRM assumed power in 1986 and were upheld in a referendum in 2000. In March 2003 the NRM u-turned on the issue and agreed a return to multiparty politics in Uganda. The article seeks to explain why the NRM leadership sanctioned a transition to multiparty politics and, secondly, how the NRM leadership sought to remain in control of the transition process. We find that the reintroduction of a multiparty system in Uganda primarily was stimulated by internal conflicts between factions within the NRM and much less by international (donor) pressure. We show that the decision to move to multiparty politics was made contingent on other constitutional changes which enabled the executive and the central political leadership to remain in power.

Lise Rakner

Professor at University of Bergen and Affiliated Research Professor

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