Uganda at Crossroads with a Failed Political Transition and Constitutional Crisis

Uganda’s Constitutional History:

Before the British and Germans contended for control over the territory, Uganda had three different indigenous political systems: the Hima caste system, the Bunyoro royal clan system and the Buganda kingship system. In 1894, the British succeeded in establishing a protectorate and made the Buganda, also called the people of Buganda, administrators authorized to collect taxes. A British-style High Court of Uganda and an Appeals Court for all Eastern African protectorate were established in 1902. At the same time, a special commissioner was installed to perform executive, legislative and judicial powers. In 1955, a constitutional monarchy with a ministerial government based on the British model was established and in 1957 political parties emerged and direct elections were held.

Uganda became an independent Commonwealth nation on October 9, 1962 under a Constitution much influenced by the British. The Constitution distributed powers between the center and the regions, albeit disproportionately. The Buganda kingdom was given more powers at the expense of the other three kingdoms, namely Ankole, Toro and Bunyoro, and the other districts. The powers granted to the four kingdoms also handicapped the Parliament, which was elected by direct universal suffrage, except for parliamentarians from Buganda who were indirectly elected through the Council of Buganda. Apart from the periodically elected Parliament, the Constitution provided for a Cabinet, drawn from and responsible to Parliament, and defined the powers of major government organs, civil service and judiciary. One year later, an amendment introduced a ceremonial President to replace the Governor General as a head of state, and Kabaka Mutesa became the first elected president on October 9, 1963.

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