Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 January 2018, 20:36 GMT

Uganda: The referendum in Uganda on 29 June 2000 and whether there was any attempt by the government to ban the Uganda Young Democrats Party

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 16 February 2001
Citation / Document Symbol UGA36487.E
Reference 2
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Uganda: The referendum in Uganda on 29 June 2000 and whether there was any attempt by the government to ban the Uganda Young Democrats Party, 16 February 2001, UGA36487.E, available at: [accessed 18 January 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

According to Human Rights Watch,

The constitution states that the first elections for president, parliament, and local government will be held under the movement system, but requires the holding of a referendum in the fourth year of the first term of parliament "to determine the political system the people of Uganda wish to adopt." The referendum and other provisions act requires the Electoral Commission to set a date between June 3 and July 2, 2000, for the referendum ... the Referendum and Other Provisions Act was adopted amid controversy on July 2, 1999, the constitutional deadline for the adoption of the legislation. Along with opposition political parties and the media, the Uganda Law Society protested that the legislation was scarcely debated and had been rushed through parliament (Oct. 1999, 93-94).

Although voter turnout was reportedly low, a referendum held on 29 June 2000 to determine the future of political parties in Uganda rejected the return to multiparty politics by over 90 per cent (AFP 1 July 2000; AP 4 July 2000). Currently Ugandan politics is conducted under the Movement system of government.

In theory every Ugandan is a member of the Movement and can stand for any public office, from the village to the cabinet, but cannot do so under the banner of the three political parties that currently exist ... the three parties that still exist in Uganda, the Democratic Party (DP), the Conservative Party (CP) and the Uganda People's Congress, had called for a boycott of the referendum on the grounds that fundamental democratic rights should not be put to the vote and that the Movement enjoyed an unfair advantage during the campaign" (AFP 1 July 2000).

Aid donors reportedly described the election as "flawed" saying that there was no level playing field (AFP 1 July 2000). Additional information on the referendum is contained in the Human Rights Watch document, Hostile to Democracy: The Movement System and Political Repression in Uganda (1999), pages 93-102, available at Regional Documentation Centres.

The Uganda Young Democrats is not a political party but a Youth wing of the DP (The Monitor 25 Aug. 2000]. The UYD is reportedly divided between those who support presidential aspirant Dr. Kizza Besigye and those who support Francis Bwengye, also a presidential candidate for the DP party (The Monitor 17 Jan. 2000). According to The Monitor, the secretary-general of the UYD, Michael Mabikke, is campaigning for Dr. Besigye, one of the candidates for the presidential election of 7 March 2000 (8 Feb. 2001).

Reports on attempts to ban the UYD could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. However, members of the UYD, including Michael Mabikke, have reportedly experienced harassment in the past (ibid., AFP 10 June 2000). In June 2000, Ugandan police reportedly broke up a UYD "youth league meeting in southwest Uganda and arrested some of its leaders ... in 1998, armed police routinely broke up the group's meetings, provoking protests from international human rights groups" (ibid.). In August 2000, police arrested two UYD officials, Michael Mabike and Godfrey Mutebi at the border with Kenya and transferred them to the capital city, Kampala (The Monitor 25 Aug. 2000).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Agence France Presse (AFP). 1 July 2000. "Ugandans Reject Multi-Party Democracy in Referendum." (NEXIS)

_____. 10 June 2001. "Ugandan Police Break Up Oppostion Meeting, Arrest Organisers." (NEXIS)

Associated Press (AP). 4 July 2000. Henry Wasswa. "Museveni Now Prepared to Countenance Multipartyism." (NEXIS)

Human Rights Watch. October 1999. Hostile to Democracy: The Movement System and Political Repression in Uganda. New York: Human Rights Watch.

The Monitor [Kampala]. 8 February 2001. "Besigye, UYD Official Turns Museveni Down." [Accessed: 15 Feb. 2001]

_____. 25 August 2000. David Musengeri. "Uganda: UYD Bosses Arrested in Busia." (NEXIS)

_____. 17 January 2001. Okoth Leah. "Young Democrats Support Bwengye/" [Accessed: 15 Feb. 2000]

Additional Sources Consulted


Resource Centre. Country File. Uganda.

One oral source contacted did not provide information on the requested subject.

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Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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