Competitive authoritarianism in Uganda: the not so hidden hand of the military

  • Jude Kagoro
Part of the Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Politikwissenschaft – Sonderhefte book series (ZfVP)


This paper draws on the notion of “coercive power” as developed by Levitsky and Way (Competitive authoritarianism: hybrid regimes after the cold war, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2010) to argue that the incumbent regime in Uganda, the National Resistance Movement under President Yoweri Museveni, offers a particularly interesting case of competitive authoritarianism. Using empirical data, the paper extends Levitsky and Way’s scope of analysis to include contemporary Uganda, which has vital characteristics of both democracy and authoritarianism. The paper provides a fresh insight into the hitherto lesser-analyzed “trinitarian” interplay whereby President Museveni, the military and the ruling party essentially function as one and the same. The paper singles out the incumbent regime’s coercive capacity as the most instrumental factor that explains its continued stability. Subsequently, the paper elucidates the symbiotic coercive strategies that are applied to systematically resist opposition challenges.


Coercive power Competitive authoritarianism Military Museveni Uganda 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Baker, Bruce. 2005. Multi-choice policing in Uganda. Policing and Society 15 (1): 19–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Carbone, Giovanni M. 2003. Political parties in a ‘No-Party Democracy’: Hegemony and opposition under ‘Movement Democracy’ in Uganda. Party Politics 9 (4): 485–501.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Carbone, Giovanni M. 2008. No-party democracy?: Ugandan politics in comparative perspective . Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers.Google Scholar
  4. Decalo, Samuel. 1998. The stable minority: Civilian rule in Africa, 1960-1990 . Gainesville: FAP Books.Google Scholar
  5. Enloe, Cynthia H. 1980. Ethnic soldiers: State security in divided societies . Athens: The University of Georgia Press.Google Scholar
  6. Gibb, Ryan. 2012. Presidential and parliamentary elections in Uganda, February 18, 2011. Electoral Studies 31 (2): 458–461.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Girke, Peter, and Mathias Kamp. 2011. Museveni's Uganda: Eternal subscription for power? Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung International Reports (5): 49–71.Google Scholar
  8. Gloppen, Siri, C. Atoo, E. Kasimbazi, A. Kibandama, J. Kiiza, S. Makara, G. Okiror, L. Rakner, S. Rwengabo, L. Svåsand, R. Tabaro, and A. Tostensen. 2006. Uganda's 2006 presidential and parliamentary elections. CMI Report R. 2006: 10. Bergen: Chr. Michelsen Institute.Google Scholar
  9. Hause, Ellen. 1999. Uganda relations with western donors in 1990s: what impact on democratisation? Journal of Modern African Studies 37 (4): 621–641.Google Scholar
  10. Hickey, Sam. 2005. The politics of staying poor: Exploring the political space for poverty reduction in Uganda. World Development 33 (6): 995–1009.Google Scholar
  11. Hills, Alice. 2000. Policing Africa: Internal security and the limits of liberalization . Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers.Google Scholar
  12. Hills, Alice. 2007. Police commissioners, presidents and the governance of security. Journal of Modern African Studies 45 (3): 403–423.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hofmeier, Rolf. 1999. Uganda. In Afrika Jahrbuch 1998: Politik, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft in Afrika südlich der Sahara, ed. Rolf Hofmeier, 314–323. Opladen: Leske & Budrich.Google Scholar
  14. Huntington, Samuel. P. 1985. The soldier and the state: the theory of civil-military relations . Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Ingham, Kenneth. 1994. Obote: A political biography . New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  16. Kagoro, Jude. 2012. Security counterweights: A power maximizing socio-political strategy in Uganda. Africa Journal for Peace and Conflict 5 (1): 1–13.Google Scholar
  17. Kagoro, Jude. 2013. The military ethos in the politics of post-1986 Uganda. Social Sciences Directory 2 (2): 31–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kagoro, Jude. 2014. Militarization or improved policing? The interplay between the military and the police in Uganda. In Beyond state-building: Confronting Africa's governance and socio-economic challenges in the 21st century, eds. Samuel Kale Ewusi and Jean Bosco Butera, 99-125. Addis Ababa: UPEACE Africa Programme.Google Scholar
  19. Kagoro, Jude. 2015. Militarization in post-1986 Uganda: Politics, military and society interpenetration . Münster: LIT Verlag.Google Scholar
  20. Karugire, Samwiri R. 1996. Roots of instability in Uganda . Kampala: Fountain Publishers.Google Scholar
  21. Kasfir, Nelson. 1998. No-party democracy in Uganda. Journal of Democracy 9 (2): 49–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kasfir, Nelson. 2000. Movement democracy, legitimacy & power in Uganda. In No-party democracy in Uganda: Myths and realities, ed. Justus Mugaju and J. Oloka-Onyango, 60-78. Kampala: Fountain Publishers.Google Scholar
  23. Kasfir, Nelson. 2002. Dilemmas of popular support in Guerrilla war: The national resistance army in Uganda, 1981-86 . Draft paper presented to LiCEP 6. Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles.Google Scholar
  24. Kategaya, Eriya. 1990. Kategaya diagnoses Uganda's disease. In Mission to freedom: Uganda resistance news 1981-1985, ed. James Tumusiime, 122-127. Kampala: Directorate of Information and Mass Mobilisation, NRM Secretariat.Google Scholar
  25. Kasozi, A. B. K. 1994. Social origins of violence in Uganda, 1964-1985. Kampala: Fountain Publishers.Google Scholar
  26. Levitsky, Steven, and Lucan Way. 2010. Competitive authoritarianism: Hybrid regimes after the cold war . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lindemann, Stefan. 2011. Just another change of guard? Broad-based politics and civil war in Museveni's Uganda. African Affairs 110 (440): 387–416.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Makara, Sabiiti. 1998. Political and administrative relations in decentralization. In Decentralisation and civil society in Uganda, ed. Apolo Nsibambi, 31-46. Kampala: Fountain Publishers.Google Scholar
  29. Mamdani, Mahmood. 2001. When victims become killers: Colonialism, nativism, and the genocide in Rwanda . Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Mann, Micheal. 1984. The autonomous power of the state: Its origins, mechanisms, and results. European Archive of Sociology 25:185–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Manyak, Terrell, and Isaac Wasswa Katono. 2010. Uganda decentralization: Governance adrift. African Studies Quarterly 11 (4): 1–24.Google Scholar
  32. Meiken, Arno. 2005. Militärische Kapazitäten und Fähigkeiten Africanischer Staaten: Ursachen und Wirkungen militärisher Ineffektivität in Subsahara-Africa. SWP-Studie/S 04 . Berlin: Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik.Google Scholar
  33. Mudoola, D. 1991. Institution building: The case of the NRM and the military in Uganda 1986-1989. In Changing Uganda, eds. H. Hansen and M. Twaddle, 230–246. London: James Currey.Google Scholar
  34. Mugaju, Justus and Oloka-Onyango, eds. 2000. No-party democracy in Uganda . Kampala: Fountain Publishers.Google Scholar
  35. Muhumuza, William. 2009. From fundamental change to no change: The NRM and democratization in Uganda. IFRALes Cahiers D’Afrique De L’est 41:21–42.Google Scholar
  36. Museveni, Yoweri. 1997. Sowing the mustard seed: The struggle for freedom and democracy in Uganda . Oxford: Macmillan Publishers.Google Scholar
  37. Museveni, Yoweri. 2000. What is Africa's problem? Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  38. Mutengesa, Sabiiti, and Dylan Hendrickson. 2008. State responsiveness to public security needs: The politics of security decision-making. Uganda country study. CSDG Papers 2008/16 . London: Kings College London, University of London.Google Scholar
  39. Mwenda, Andrew M. 2007. Personalizing power in Uganda. Journal of Democracy 18 (3): 23–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Mwenda, Andrew M., and Roger Tangri. 2005. Patronage politics, donor reforms, and regime consolidation in Uganda. African Affairs 104 (416): 449–467.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Oloka-Onyango, Joseph. 2004. “New-Breed” leadership, conflict, and reconstruction in the Great Lakes region of Africa: A sociopolitical biography of Uganda's Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. Africa Today 50 (3): 29–52.Google Scholar
  42. Omara-Otunnu, Amii. 1998. The currency on militarism in Uganda. In The military and militarism in Africa, eds. Eboe Hutchful and Abdoulaye Bathily, 399–428. Senegal: CODESRIA (CODESRIA book series).Google Scholar
  43. Prunier, Gérard. 2004. Rebel movements and proxy warfare: Uganda, Sudan and the Congo (1986-99). African Affairs 103 (412): 359–383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Rodríguez Soto, Carlos. 2009. Tall grass: Stories of suffering and peace in Northern Uganda . Kampala: Fountain Publishers.Google Scholar
  45. Roessler, Philip. 2011. The enemy within: Personal rule, coups and civil war in Africa. World Politics 63 (2): 300–346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Rubongoya, Joshua B. 2007. Regime hegemony in Museveni's Uganda . New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Rukooko, B. A. 2005. Protracted civil war, civilian militias and political transition in Uganda since 1986. In Civil militias. Africa's intractable security menace, ed. D. J. Francis, 213–230. Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  48. Schlichte, Klaus. 2005. Was kommt nach dem Staatszerfall?: Die Gewaltordnungen in Uganda seit 1986. Afrika Spectrum 39 (1): 83–113.Google Scholar
  49. Schlichte, Klaus. 2008. Uganda, or: The internationalisation of rule. Civil Wars 10 (4): 371–385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Skocpol, Theda. 1973. A critical review of Barrington Moore's social origins of dictatorship and democracy. Politics and Society 4:1–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Skocpol, Theda. 1979. States and social revolutions . New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Steiner, Susan. 2004. Uganda. In Afrika Jahrbuch 2003: Politik, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft in Afrika südlich der Sahara, eds. Rolf Hofmeier and Andreas Mehler, 321–328. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.Google Scholar
  53. Tangri, Roger, and Andrew M. Mwenda. 2003. Military corruption and Uganda politics since the late 1990s. Review of African Political Economy 30 (98): 539–552.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Tangri, Roger, and Andrew M. Mwenda. 2010. President Museveni and the politics of presidential tenure in Uganda. Journal of Contemporary African Studies 28 (1): 31–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Tripp, Aili M. 2004. The changing face of authoritarianism in Africa: The case of Uganda. Africa Today 50 (3): 3–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Tripp, Aili M. 2010. Museveni's Uganda . Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers.Google Scholar
  57. Van Acker, Frank. 2004. Uganda and the Lord's resistance army: The new order no one ordered. African Affairs 103 (412): 335–357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Veyel, Volker. 2007. Uganda. In Africa yearbook 2006: Politics, economy and society South of the Sahara, eds. Andreas Mehler, Henning Melber, and Klaas van Walraven, Chapter VI, Eastern Africa, 265–396. Boston: Brill.Google Scholar
  59. Veyel, Volker. 2010. Uganda. In Africa yearbook volume 6: Politics, economy and society South of the Sahara in 2009, eds. Andreas Mehler, Henning Melber, and Klaas van Walraven, 409-419. Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  60. Wapakhabulo, James F. 2000. Movement democracy in Uganda: Origins, progress, challenges and prospects. In No-party democracy in Uganda; Myths and Realities, eds. Justus Mugaju and Oloka Onyango, 79-95. Kampala: Fountain Publishers.Google Scholar
  61. Weitzer, Ronald. 1990. Transforming settler states. Communal conflict and internal security in Northern Ireland and Zimbabwe . Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  62. Worden, Scott. 2008. The Justice Dilemma in Uganda. United States Institute of Peace. USIPeace Briefing (February 2008): 1–13.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jude Kagoro
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Intercultural and International StudiesUniversity of BremenBremenGermany

Personalised recommendations