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Uganda: The Democratic Party (DP), including the treatment of its members (2004 - January 2006)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa
Publication Date 20 February 2006
Citation / Document Symbol UGA100951.E
Reference 7
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Uganda: The Democratic Party (DP), including the treatment of its members (2004 - January 2006), 20 February 2006, UGA100951.E, available at: [accessed 20 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.

Established in 1954, the Democratic Party (DP) has variously been described as a political party that maintains "strong Roman Catholic support in southern Uganda" (Political Parties of the World 2005, 602), is an "advocate of centralization and a mixed economy" (Political Handbook of the World 2005-2006 2005, 1211), and "seeks a multi-party political system (Europa World Year Book 2005 2005, 4386). In November 2005, John Ssebaana Kizito was elected new DP leader and named presidential nominee for the March 2006 elections (Xinhua 28 Nov. 2005; see also New Vision 29 Dec. 2005; BBC 5 Jan. 2006; US 10 Jan. 2006), replacing former DP leader Dr. Paul Kwanga Ssemogerere (Political Parties of the World 2005, 602; Europa World Year Book 2005 2005, 4386; Political Handbook of the World 2005-2006 2005, 1211).

Generally, political developments resulting from a July 2005 national referendum saw Uganda transition to a multi-party system (US Jan. 2006; BBC 3 Jan. 2006; HRW 18 Jan. 2006). Nevertheless, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW), the "main opposition coalition boycotted the referendum, complaining that the decision by President Yoweri Museveni-who has been president since 1986-to push through a constitutional amendment in June [2005] that removed presidential term limits, allowing him to run for a third term, undermined any efforts at democratic reform" (ibid.).

Treatment of DP members

International human rights sources, reporting on events of 2004 and 2005, noted that opposition party members and supporters continued to face harassment and "threats to their safety and freedom" (HRW 18 Jan. 2006; ibid. 13 Jan. 2005; Freedom House 11 Aug. 2005; AI 2005). For example, in March 2004, Human Rights Watch stated that government security forces had detained and tortured political opposition supporters for reportedly challenging the country's political system (29 Mar. 2004).

With regard to DP members, news sources of 2005 reported on incidents and accusations of politically motivated harassment, including state-sponsored disruption of public demonstrations and arrests of supporters and members (Mail & Guardian 10 Mar. 2005; The Nation 31 Mar. 2005; New Vision 19 Dec. 2005; ibid. 29 Dec. 2005). In March 2005, the Gulu branch of the DP stated that the army had detained two of its senior party officials (Mail & Guardian 10 Mar. 2005). An army official in Gulu confirmed the arrests and explained that the DP members had been arrested for their alleged links to the rebel group Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) (ibid.). In addition, at the end of March 2005, the DP youth wing Vice President, Mukasa Mbidde, was arrested in Kampala's Constitution Square for "demonstrating against the proposed third term for President Yoweri Musevini" (The Nation 31 Mar. 2005).

In December 2005, New Vision reported that the DP had received funding from the UK's Conservative Party (19 Dec. 2005). Consequently, according to DP officials, "some of their supporters were being arrested and asked to explain the source of their money" (New Vision 19 Dec. 2005). Also in December 2005, DP presidential candidate Ssebaana Kizito accused President Museveni of authorizing the detention and incarceration of political opponents "on false charges" (ibid. 29 Dec. 2005). However, according to the article, Kizito did not clarify which opposition candidates had been targeted (ibid.).

While further information about the treatment of DP members could not be found among sources consulted by the Research Directorate, in a February 2005 article, The East African reported that internal difficulties have forced much of the DP leadership to defect to other parties, that more than half of the DP's Ministers of Parliament (MPs) have defected to the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) (16 Feb. 2005).

Moreover, in January 2006, the BBC reported the results of an independent opinion poll on presidential candidates running in the March 2006 elections, which showed that DP candidate Kizito had apparently scored low in public support, with just 5 per cent of those polled favouring the DP in the upcoming election (5 Jan. 2006).

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 for refugee protection. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Amnesty International (AI). 2005. "Uganda." Amnesty International Report 2005. [Accessed 11 Jan. 2006]

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). 5 January 2006. "Uganda Poll See Two-Horse Race." [Accessed 11 Jan. 2006]
_____. 3 January 2006. "Timeline: Uganda." [Accessed 11 Jan. 2006]

The East African [Nairobi]. 16 February 2005. Barbara Among and A. Mutumba-Lule. "Uganda's DP Told: Register Or Die." (All Africa/Dialog)

Europa World Year Book 2005. 2005. 46th ed. Vol. 2. London: Routledge/Taylor and Francis Group.

Freedom House. 11 August 2005. "Uganda." Freedom in the World 2005. [Accessed 11 Jan. 2006]

Human Rights Watch (HRW). 18 January 2006. "Uganda." World Report 2006. [Accessed 18 Jan. 2006]
_____. 13 January 2005. "Uganda." World Report 2005. [Accessed 11 Jan. 2006]
_____. 29 March 2004. "Uganda: Torture Used to Deter Opposition." [Accessed 11 Jan. 2006]

Mail & Guardian [Johannesburg]. 10 March 2005. "Gruesome Rebel Attack in Uganda." [Accessed 10 Mar. 2005]

The Nation [Nairobi]. 31 March 2005. Stephen Ouma. "Ugandan MPs Arrested in Anti-Muzeveni Protest." (All Africa/Dialog)

New Vision [Kampala]. 29 December 2005. Chris Ochowun. "Museveni Jailing Foes, Says DP's Ssebaana." [Accessed 11 Jan. 2006]
_____. 19 December 2005. Joyce Namutebi. "DP Gets New Home." [Accessed 11 Jan. 2006]

Political Handbook of the World 2005-2006. 2005. Edited by Arthur S. Banks, Thomas C. Muller and William R. Overstreet. Washington, DC: CQ Press.

Political Parties of The World. 2005. 6th Edition. Edited by Bogdan Szajkowski. London, UK: John Harper Publishing.

United States (US). 10 January 2006. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The World Factbook 2005. "Uganda." [Accessed 25 Jan. 2006]
_____. January 2006. United States Department of State, Bureau of African Affairs. "Background Note: Zimbabwe." [Accessed 9 Jan. 2006]

Xinhua News Agency [Beijing]. 28 November 2005. "Kampala Mayor Elected Leader of Uganda's Democratic Party." [Accessed 17 Feb. 2006]

Additional Sources Consulted

An oral source with the International Crisis Group could not provide the information requested.

Internet sites, including: Country Reports 2004, European Country of Origin Information Network (ECOI), European Union, Factiva, International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), International Crisis Group (ICG), ReliefWeb, United Kingdom Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND), United Nations Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), World News Connection, World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT).

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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