Post conflict reconstruction and the international community in Uganda, 1986-2000 : an African success story?
Post-conflict reconstruction refers to the complex process whereby societies strive to
overcome internal armed conflict and (re-)establish peaceful and stable political
arrangements. The central question addressed in this thesis is whether Uganda's
transformation under Y. Museveni's National Resistance Movement (NRM) between
1986 and 2000 is a successful case of post-conflict reconstruction, as is widely held.
As a corollary, it asks how the interaction between the NRM and the international
community has affected this process.
The thesis argues that, in spite of the NRM's remarkable achievements,
Uganda's reconstruction is deeply flawed. Most importantly, a legitimate framework
for the allocation, exercise and reproduction of political power has not been
established. The reconstruction strategy, shaped by the NRM's character as a
politicised guerrilla group and dominated by the imperative of regime survival, was
inherently twin-faced. It restored political authority and security to most areas of the
country, enabling, amongst other achievements, economic recovery. However, it also
unleashed military interventionism, led to political closure, and created a fragile and
politicised economic order. As such, the NRM's actions attracted increasing
opposition, expressed through political and military means.
The ancillary argument is that, notwithstanding the pre-eminence of domestic
factors, Uganda's transformation has been highly dependent on the support of an
interested international community. The NRM was willing and able to adapt to
donors' priority concerns, in particular to introduce liberal economic reform, and
strategically used donor support to build its power. For their part, donors found the
NRM's authority and commitment to structural adjustment quite irresistible.
Agendas thus converged, generating mutual dependence. As a result, donors
overlooked how their support was diverted, and how the NRM's security policies and
political reforms diverged from stated principles. The donors' approach promoted the
consolidation of the NRM's power, yet at the expense of the legitimacy of Uganda's