Foreign policy and defense
Uganda has long had a tense relationship with
several of its neighboring countries, much because
Ugandan regime-critical groups have been allowed to have
bases in neighboring countries while foreign guerrillas
have been allowed to operate from Ugandan land. Uganda
has also challenged surrounding countries with their
increasingly clear regional power ambitions. Relations
have improved in recent years and Uganda is cooperating
with several neighboring countries in both guerrilla
fighting and trade.
Since 2007, Uganda has troops in Somalia to support
the government there and fight the militant Islamist
group al-Shabaab. Ugandan soldiers form the backbone of
Amisom, the peacekeeping force of the African Union (AU)
in Somalia. Since al-Shabaab carried out two suicide
attacks in Kampala in 2010, the Ugandan security service
and the United States have warned of the risk of new
attacks in the country. In 2019, Uganda had 6,400
soldiers in Somalia.
Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Uganda for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.
Uganda has long had a difficult relationship with the
Government of Sudan, not least because of its close
contacts with the guerrilla movement SPLA, which fought
for an independent southern Sudan. Sudan has long
provided LRA with both protection and support while
Uganda did the same for SPLA. In 1999, Sudan and Uganda
signed an agreement in which the countries pledged to
end support for each other's opposition groups.
Since South Sudan gained independence in 2011, the
country became an important trading partner for Uganda.
When civil war broke out in South Sudan in late 2013,
Uganda sent soldiers there to support the government
side. The decision to send soldiers to the neighboring
country was only subsequently approved by the Ugandan
parliament. President Museveni initially described it as
a humanitarian effort to prevent a genocide, but it has
been found that Ugandan soldiers helped President Salva
Kiir Mayardit recover cities and oil fields from the
rebel side. In 2014, Museveni promised to withdraw the
Ugandan troops, but they were only withdrawn in November
2015, in accordance with a peace agreement in South
Sudan. In February 2019, there were almost 800,000 South
Sudanese refugees in Uganda.
East African Community
The three former British colonies Kenya, Tanzania and
Uganda had close political and economic ties even before
independence in the early 1960s. From 1967, cooperation
took place within the framework of the East African
Community (EAC). But political contradictions grew
strong during the 1970s. EAC stopped working and several
border conflicts took place.
Contacts improved gradually and in 2001 EAC formally
resurfaced. In 2007, Rwanda and Burundi also joined. In
2016, South Sudan also joined the community. The EAC's
goal is to strengthen political cooperation between the
countries, increase regional trade and reduce dependence
on foreign aid. A free trade agreement entered into
force in 2005 and since 2010, labor and capital can
freely move across borders. The goal is to eventually
introduce a single currency and form a political
federation. In April 2017, the countries agreed to form
a Customs Union, which came into force three months
later. Prior to this, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda
had started to exchange national passports with EAC
The relationship between Uganda and Rwanda has
fluctuated tremendously since the early 1990s. Many of
Rwanda's new holders of power after the 1994 genocide
were old gunmen to Museveni. Relations deteriorated
during the war in Congo-Kinshasa 1998-2000 due to
competition for Congolese natural wealth (see below). In
1999, regular fighting broke out between Ugandan and
Rwandan troops in eastern Congo-Kinshasa. After that,
the relationship improved, not least through Uganda's
support for Rwanda's membership in the EAC. From 2017,
tensions increased again as Rwanda claimed that Uganda
supported a Rwandan rebel group that aimed to overthrow
the Kigali government, something the Ugandan government
rejected. Uganda also accused Rwanda of interfering in
Ugandan affairs (see also Calendar).
Uganda's relations with Kenya and Tanzania have been
strengthened since the countries resumed cooperation
within the EAC in the late 1990s. One sign that Uganda
and Kenya were approaching each other was President
Museveni's harsh criticism of the ICC's charges against
Kenya's president for abuses committed in the 2007
Uganda was involved in conflicts in Congo-Kinshasa
from the mid-1990s. The motives were both the need to
secure the border with the neighboring country and the
snow. Ugandan rebel groups emerged from the Congolese
territory in the early 1990s. Uganda supported Congolese
guerrilla leader Laurent Kabila in defeating the then
dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997. When it emerged that
Kabila did not prevent the Ugandan rebels from operating
from Congo-Kinshasa, in 1998 Uganda chose to support
attempts to overthrow Kabila. At the same time,
Ugandans, not least high-ranking soldiers, plundered
Congo's rich natural resources. Uganda received sharp
criticism from the outside world for its actions,
especially the looting of natural wealth and
participation in abuses against civilians. Uganda's
troops were withdrawn in 2003 following a peace
agreement in Congo-Kinshasa,
The countries also have a dispute over areas around
the Albertsjön, where large deposits of oil have been
discovered. At the same time, trade between Uganda and
eastern Congo-Kinshasa has gained momentum.
In a 2012 UN report, Uganda (and Rwanda) was accused
of supporting the Congolese rebel movement M23. In
connection with the country threatened to leave all its
peacekeeping missions, including that in Somalia, but
this did not happen. Concerns that the tense situation
in the region would affect the planned oil recovery at
the Albertsjön are considered to have played an
important role (see Natural Resources and Energy).
At the ICGLR regional organization's summit in
Kampala in August of the same year, the Ugandan
government was commissioned to mediate the conflict
between the Congolese government and the M23. With
Uganda's help, M23 and the Congolese government agreed
in 2013 on a peace agreement.
China and Russia
In recent years, China has increased its influence in
Uganda and is active in almost every economic sector in
the country. Western donors' markings against Uganda due
to corruption charges and the harsh attitude towards
gays have contributed to Uganda increasing its
cooperation with China (see also Economic overview).
In recent years, contacts between Uganda and Russia
have increased. In 2011, Uganda bought Russian fighter
aircraft for $ 744 million. In 2015, Uganda signed an
agreement with a Russian company to build a large oil
refinery near Kampala.
Uganda is one of America's closest allies in Africa
and receives extensive US aid and military support.
Although the United States marked its disapproval in
2014 with the new legislation against homosexuals,
Uganda is an all too important ally for Washington to do
more than that. Through the operation in Somalia, the
Ugandan military has been able to gain goodwill and to
receive money from the United States for new equipment
and training of the soldiers.
Uganda has a large army. In 1990, the defense budget
corresponded to 30 percent of gross domestic product
(GDP), but later the proportion decreased significantly.
However, it is unclear how much the military effort in
South Sudan will cost Uganda.
FACTS - DEFENSE
45,000 men (2017)
400 men (2015)
Military expenditure's share of GDP
1.7 percent (2017)
Military spending's share of the state budget
8.6 percent (2017)
The rebels blame the government for murder
LRA rebels kill hundreds of people in three Congolese villages. The LRA
denies any involvement in the killing and claims to have been committed by the
Ugandan army. The LRA is also accused of killing 38 people in southern Sudan.
Military offensive starts against rebels
Uganda, self-governing South Sudan and Congo-Kinshasa launch a military
offensive against the LRA in northeastern Uganda. According to the Ugandan
military, several LRA bases are destroyed. When there is evidence that military
forces from South Sudan are participating in the attacks, a representative of
the LRA says the raids are likely to mean the end of the peace process. The
Ugandan government claims that more than two-thirds of LRA's camps have been
Signing of peace agreements is further postponed
In November, the LRA leader again announces that he will sign the peace
agreement, but just as before, Kony does not show up for the ceremony.
Rebels are suspected of kidnapping
According to relief organizations, the LRA is suspected of kidnapping
civilians in the Central African Republic. Reports indicate that LRA rebels are
still active in Congo-Kinshasa and in South Sudan, where they are suspected of
brutal attacks against the civilian population.
A final peace agreement is signed
The final peace agreement between the government and the LRA is scheduled to
be signed on April 5. However, it was postponed several times because Kony did
not come to Ri-Kwangba as planned.
Peace talks bring results
During the 18 months that peace talks have been going on, the violence in
northern Uganda has decreased significantly and some refugees have begun to
The president does not intend to hand out guerrilla leaders
President Museveni says he does not intend to hand over the LRA leaders to
the ICC, but should instead be tried by the traditional Ugandan judiciary (which
places more emphasis on asking for forgiveness and damages than penalties).
However, the ICC claims that the charges against the LRA leaders (two of whom
are now dead) remain.
Threats from the guerrillas
The LRA threatens not to sign the agreement unless the ICC withdraws its
lawsuit against Kony
The victims of the conflict should be compensated
The parties have also agreed that a special unit at Uganda's High Court
should deal with those accused of serious crimes. Programs will also be started
to offer victims compensation, a kind of truth commission to investigate what
happened during the conflict, and other measures to facilitate reconciliation.
The parties agree
Earlier, the parties agreed that representatives of the population in
conflict-affected areas should be given high political and diplomatic positions
and that LRA rebels should be integrated into the national army.
Agreement on a permanent cease-fire
On February 24, the government and the LRA sign an agreement on a permanent
ceasefire. It also means that the rebel movement undertakes not to recruit any
combatants or acquire new weapons, and that a buffer zone of a mile should be
established around LRA's Ri-Kwang-Ba collection camp in southern Sudan.
LRA asks for forgiveness
At the beginning of the year, a group from the LRA travels to war-affected
areas asking victims for forgiveness for their part of the conflict.