About the Event
Since obtaining political independence from Britain in October 1962, Uganda has never experienced a peaceful transfer of power from one president to another. Military coups and violent takeovers have been the dominant mode of change. All previous attempts at peaceful transition, including the administration established after the overthrow of Idi Amin in 1979 and the Constitutional Assembly of 1994, have been fraught with manipulation and protection of self-interest, rather than providing for the public good. The current president, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, has been Uganda’s leader since 1986, having taken power following a devastating, five-year guerrilla war. Today, Uganda is at a critical juncture—a Constitutional provision on presidential age-limits bars Museveni from running for the presidency in 2021. Is Uganda coming to the end of an era, or will the constitution be amended to give Museveni an opportunity to continue his rule, making him the longest serving president in Africa? In his presentation, Arthur Larok discussed the prospects for political transition in Uganda. He also provided recommendations for civil society and political actors both domestically and among Uganda’s allies abroad. His presentation was followed by comments by Thomas Carothers.
Arthur Larok, Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow
with comments by
Thomas Carothers, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Sally Blair, International Forum for Democratic Studies
About the Speakers
Arthur Larok is country director of ActionAid Uganda, a national development organization working to overcome poverty and the factors that perpetuate it. He is also co-chair of ActionAid International’s Working Group on Civic and Political Space. As an activist and mobilizer, he has been instrumental in supporting citizen protest movements and campaigns for social justice and accountability. In 2012, he was one of the founders of the Black Monday Movement, a defining face of citizen action against corruption and theft of public resources and donor aid in Uganda, and in 2010, he helped to spearhead a nationwide movement to develop a Citizens’ Manifesto, an initiative that has become a hallmark in shaping political and social accountability work by civil society in Uganda. He has authored a number of research reflection papers, including “The Role of Civil Society in a Changing Political Context in Uganda” (2012), “Democratizing Africa or Africanizing Democracy?” (2011), and “‘Protecting the Tree or Saving the Forest’: A Political Analysis of the Legal Environment for NGO Operations in Uganda” (2009). During his fellowship, Mr. Larok has been exploring the prospects for a political transition in Uganda and building a domestic constituency and international network of allies in support of such a transition.
Thomas Carothers is senior vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where he also directs the Democracy and Rule of Law Program. A leading authority on international support for democracy, human rights, governance, the rule of law, and civil society, Carothers has worked on democracy assistance projects for many organizations and carried out extensive field research on aid efforts around the world. He is the author of six critically acclaimed books and many articles in prominent journals and newspapers. He is a distinguished visiting professor at the Central European University in Budapest and was previously a visiting faculty member at Nuffield College, Oxford University, and Johns Hopkins SAIS.
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