Uganda’s Slow Slide into Crisis

Major violence is unlikely for now, but Uganda nonetheless faces the gradual fraying of order, security and governance. Discontent is growing, particularly among youth, against what many Ugandans see as perpetual rule by President Museveni and his NRM government. The president cannot continue to rely on patronage and coercion by loyal security services instead of initiating the reforms necessary to reverse the decline of the economy, public services and security. This deterioration affects the lives of ordinary Ugandans and fuels grievances both among communities and between communities and the state. Thus far, Museveni largely has managed opposition to his rule without significant violence. Yet should opposition grow, both he and the security services, particularly the police, could well resort to more aggressive repression against protestors, their leaders and supporters in civil society and the media. This would make Uganda less governable, driving away donor support and foreign investment. Without reform at the top, the system will become ever more expensive and difficult to manage, increasing the likelihood of a political explosion that would be impossible to contain using current methods. President Museveni holds the keys to potential – and necessary – reform.