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Uganda’s Future: Navigating a Precarious Transition: The Role of the International Community

Open Society Foundations
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Who will succeed Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, and under what circumstances? Given Museveni’s advanced age—he turns 78 later this year and has been in power for 36 years—this is no longer a purely theoretical debate. Although this “transition question” is the subject of much informal speculation, Ugandans do not discuss it publicly.

The transition question highlights the increasingly authoritarian nature of Museveni’s regime: political space has been closed off; a largely personalized system of governance has replaced structurally weakened state institutions, and the prospect of democratic election has become increasingly unlikely.

Given these dynamics, Uganda is heading to a major political crisis, with a high potential for violence among groups competing for power—a process which will bring ethnicity further to the foreground.

The donor community, and the European Union in particular, needs to shift from a business-as-usual approach, as it will only further entrench these dangerous features of Uganda’s political system.

The policy brief describes the current dynamics of the Museveni regime and ways in which a transition could unfold. It examines what an impending transition means for the international community and the EU in particular.