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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 May, 2005, 08:48 GMT 09:48 UK
Ugandan referendum on democracy
Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni
Museveni's popularity among Western donors is on the wane
Uganda's parliament has voted overwhelmingly in favour of holding a referendum on the country returning to a full multi-party democracy.

Since President Yoweri Museveni came to power 19 years ago, Uganda has operated a unique political system which severely restricted political parties.

Five years ago a similar referendum approved keeping the "movement" system.

The motion was backed by all but 21 MPs and is being pushed for by Mr Museveni who says "it must go ahead".

Rows

The one-party movement system of government was introduced to try and prevent the chaos and ethnic conflicts that plagued Uganda throughout the 1970s and early 80s.

At present political parties are allowed to exist but candidates for office must run as individuals - not representatives of a party.

Some had argued that holding a referendum would be too expensive but Mr Museveni has said the people must decide.

The Ugandan government and opposition parties all support a return to multi-party politics ahead of elections in a year's time.

But the political temperature in Uganda has risen in recent months - partly because of attempts to amend the constitution and allow Mr Museveni to run for office again.

Last week, the UK government announced it had cancelled 5m ($10m) of funding to Uganda, because it felt not enough had been done to establish fair multi-party politics.

About half of Uganda's entire budget comes from donor funding.


SEE ALSO:
UK aid cut pressures Uganda
29 Apr 05 |  Africa
Uganda police battle protesters
31 Mar 05 |  Africa
Country profile: Uganda
09 Apr 05 |  Country profiles


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