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Political History Of Uganda Independence History Essay

Info: 5427 words (22 pages) Essay
Published: 1st Jan 2015 in History

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Uganda gained its independence on October 9th 1962. Since 1894 it was a British colony that was put together from some very organized kingdoms and chieftaincies that colonized the lake regions of central Africa. Dr. Milton Apollo Obote, leader of the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) became the first Prime Minister and head of the government.

The Republican leaning UPC came into power through an “unholy” association with a pro-mornarchy party called the KabakaYekka (KY), which had a stated aim of protecting the institution and power of the kingdom of Buganda. The UPC had one year before independence, lost the first ever general election to the Democratic Party(DP).

In November 1963, KabakaMutesa II King of Buganda was elected traditional President of Uganda apparently sealing the political association of UPC and KY. However, this political ease was short lived since both Obote and Mutesa and their following had contradictory agendas.

In 1964, Obotepassed a bill in Parliament given that for a referendum on the belonging of the counties of Buyaga, Bugangaizi and Buwekula then of Buganda but claimed by the bordering kingdom of Bunyoro. This culminated in two of the counties choosing to withdraw from Buganda and relapse back to the Bunyoro Kingdom. As Kabaka of Buganda and President of Uganda, Sir Edward Mutesa II, was placed in adifficultsituation of signing the two acts pertaining to the “lost counties”. It was upon accusations of failure of duty by the President, not to state other fictional reasons, that Oboteperched the 1962 constitution on 22nd February 1966 and took over all powers of State, thus giving increase to what came to be known as the 1966 Crisis.

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On 15 April 1966, in a Parliament bounded by troops, Oboteimplemented without notice a new constitution to be voted upon that very day. The constitution was passed without debate and the Prime Minister informed Members of Parliament (MPs) that they would discover their copies in their pigeonholes. The constitution wasrecognized as the Pigeonhole Constitution. along with other things, the federal constitutional status of kingdoms was removed and the office of Prime Minister combined with that of the President and all executive powers were given toObote. Uganda was declared a Republic.

The Kabaka and his kingdom founding at Mengo refused to be on familiar terms with the primacy of the pigeonhole constitution, insisting on the 1962 version. This culminated in the 24th May 1966 attacking of Kabaka’s palace by the Uganda army under the authority of General Idi Amin but on the commands of Obote. Even though the Kabaka managed to run away, he was exiled in Britain where he later died.

In 1967 Oboteremoved all monarchs. Parliament became the constituent assembly and later all political parties were banned, except UPC. In a move to the left, Uganda became a one-party-state.

Idi Amin

The Ugandan economy was distressed by Amin’s policies, with the removal of Asians, the nationalization of businesses and industry, and the development of the public sector. Within a decade the real value of salaries and wages declined by 90%. The number of people killed during this period is unknown; but the estimates from the human rights group and international observer sum from 100,000 to 500,000.

Taking power

Milton Obote’srule had terrorized, stressed, and grief-stricken people during Uganda’s independence from Great Britain in 1962 to early 1971. Regular food shortages had sent prices to the maximum amount. Obote’sharassment of Indian traders had contributed to this. During Obote’srule, open and extensive corruption had emerged. The rule was not liked, mainly in Buganda where people had suffered the most.

By January 1971, Milton Obote, then President of Uganda, was prepared to rid himself of the possibledanger posed by Idi Amin. Leaving for the 1971 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at Singapore, he relayed orders to trustworthyLangi officers that Amin and his followers in the army were to be detained. A variety of versions emerged of the way this news was leaked to Amin. Also, the task of the foreign powers in the rebellion had been debated. Documents declassified by the British Foreign Office disclose that, opposing to previousspeculations, it was not directly facilitated by Great Britain but benefited from concealedhold by Israel which saw Idi Amin as an representative to weaken Islamic Sudan. The credentials however reveal an out rightly positive appraisal of Amin’s individuality by the British authorities as well as recommendations of support and the sale of arms to the new rule.

In any case, Amin decided to anticipateObote and strike first. In the early morning hours of January 25, 1971, programmed army units trustworthy to him attacked planned targets in Kampala and the airport at Entebbe, where the initial shell fired by a pro-Amin tank commander killed two Roman Catholic priests in the airport waiting room. Amin’s troops easily overcame the confused opponent to the coup, and Amin almost instantly started mass executions of Acholi and Langi troops, whom he thought to be pro-Obote.

The Amin coup was cordially welcomed by most of the people of the Buganda kingdom, which Obote had attempted to take apart. They seemed prepared to forget that their new president, Idi Amin, had been the instrument of that military control. Amin made the typical statements about his government’s goal to play a simple “caretaker role” until the country could improveadequately for civilian rule. Amin repudiated Obote’s non-aligned foreign policy, and his government was rapidlyaccepted by Israel, Britain, and the United States. In contrast, presidents Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) originally refused to agree to the authority of the new military government. Nyerere, in particular, disparate Amin’s rule, and he presentedkindness to the exiled Obote, facilitating his attempts to hoist a force and return to power.

Once in power

Amin’s military experience, which was almost his only know-how, determined the nature of his rule. He renamed Government House “the Command Post”, instituted an advisory defense council collected of military commanders, located military tribunals above the system of civil law, allotted soldiers to top government posts and parastatal agencies, and even updated the newly-inducted civilian cabinet ministers that they would be subject to military discipline. Uganda was, in effect, governed from a gathering of military basespread across the country, where battalion commanders, acting like local warlords, represented the coercive arm of the government. The Ugandan General Service Unit (GSU), an intelligence agency formed by the preceding government, was disbanded and replaced by the Ugandan State Research Bureau (SRB). SRB headquarters at Nakasero became the prospect of torture and executions over the next years.

Despite its outerexhibit of a military chain of command, Amin’s government was perhaps more devoted with rivalries, regional divisions, and racial politics than the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) alliance that it had replaced. The army itself was anground of deadly competition, in which losers were generally eliminated. in the officer group, those skilled in Britain opposed those trained in Israel, and both stood not in favor of the unqualified, who soon eliminated many of the army’s most qualified officers. In 1966, well prior to the Amin era, northerners in the army had beaten and harassed soldiers from the south. The Lugbara and Kakwa (Amin’s ethnic group) from the West Nile were slaughtering northern Acholi and Langi, who were recognized with Obote in 1971 and 1972. Then the Kakwafight the Lugbara. Amin came to rely on Nubians and on earlierAnyanya rebels from southern Sudan.

The army, which had been graduallystretched under Obote, was stretched thrice further under Amin. There were episodic purges, when various troop commanders were viewed as probable problems or became actualfear. Each purge provided new opportunities for promotions from the ranks. The commander of the Uganda Air Force, Smuts Guweddeko, had formerly worked as a telephone operative; the illegalkiller for the rule, Major Malyamungu, had previously been a nightwatch officer. By the mid-1970s, only the most honestarmed forces were allowed missiles, although this prevention did not avoid a series of mutinies and murders. An effort by an American journalist, Nicholas Stroh, and his associate, Robert Siedle, to explore one of these base outbreaks in 1972 at the Simbatroop in Mbarara led to their disappearances and, later, deaths.

Muammar Gaddafi and the Soviet Union

Amin always remembered the basis of his power. He used up much of his time pleasing, promoting, and manipulating the officers and soldiers of the Ugandan armed forces. Financing his growingarmed forces expenditures was aongoing concern. Early in 1972, he upturned foreign policy – by no means a major issue for Amin – to make safemonetary and military support from Muammar Gaddafi of Libya. Amin debarred the remaining Israeli advisers, to whom he was much owing a favor, and became anti-Israel. To encourage foreign aid from Saudi Arabia, he rediscovered his formerlyignored Islamic inheritance. He also specially made the structure of a great mosque on Kampala Hill in the capital city, but it was never done because much of the money proposed for it was embezzled.

The Soviet Union became Amin’s largest arms supplier.

East Germany helped to build Amin’s underground police. During the Tanzanian attack in 1979, East Germany attempted to eliminatefacts about its association.

Expulsion of Indians and nationalizations

In August 1972, Amin disqualified almost all of Uganda’s 80,000 Asians and detained their belongings. even though Amin proclaimed that the “common man” was the recipient of this extreme act – which proved enormouslyaccepted in Uganda and most of Africa – it was in reality the Ugandan army that emerged with the houses, cars, and businesses of the leaving Asian minority. This expropriation of property proved devastating for the already declining economy. Businesses were run into the ground, cement factories at Tororo and Fort Portal distorted from need of maintenance, and sugar production ground to a close down as unmaintained machinery was blockedeternally.

Uganda’s export crops were sold by government parastatals, but the majority of the foreign money they earned went for purchasing imports for the armed forces. The most prominent instance was the “whisky run” to Stansted Airport in Britain, where planeloads of Scotch whisky, transistor radios, and luxury items were purchased for Amin to share out among his officers and troops. “A dog with a bone in its mouth can’t bite.”An African proverb, summed up Amin’s conduct of his army.

The countryside African producers, mainly of coffee, bowed to smuggling, particularly to Kenya. The smuggling problem became afascination with Amin; just before the end of his rule, he selected his mercenary and political adviser, the former British resident Bob Astles, to take all essential steps to get rid of the problem. These steps integrated commands to kill smugglers on sight.


an additional near-obsession for Amin was the danger of a counter-offensive by previous president Obote. soon after the throwing out of Asians in 1972, Obote did start such an challenge across the Tanzanian border into southwestern Uganda. His little army dependent on twenty-seven trucks set out to take into guardianship the southern Ugandan military post at Masaka but in its place settled down to await a general uprising not in favor of Amin, which did not occur. Aintendedattack of the airport at Entebbe by soldiers in an allegedly hijacked East African Airways passenger aircraft was aborted when Obote’s pilot blew out the aircraft’s tires and it remained in Tanzania. Amin was able to activate his more trustworthyMalire Mechanical Rulent and drive out the invaders.

even thoughtriumphant at his success, Amin realized that Obote, with Nyerere’shelp might try again. He had the SRB and the recently formed Public Safety Unit (PSU) increase their efforts to reveal subversives and other probable enemies of the state. General fright and uncertainty became a way of life for the population, as thousands of people missing. In anthreatening twist, people occasionally learned by listening to the radio that they were “about to disappear.”

State terrorism was evidenced in a sequence of spectacular incidents; for example, High Court Judge Benedicto Kiwanuka, ex- head of government and leader of the prohibited DP, was detained directly from his courtroom. Like many other sufferers, he was required to remove his shoes and then bundled into the trunk of a car, never to be seen alive again. Whether calculated or not, the representation of a pair of shoes by the roadside to mark the passing of a human life was a strange yet painful form of state terrorism.


Uganda lost98% of its rhinos, 75% of its elephants,80% of its lions and leopards, and 90% of its crocodiles, in addition to severalvariety of bird.

Amin did try to create ties with an worldwide terrorist group in June 1976, when he presented the Palestinian hijackers of an Air France flight from Tel Aviv a confined support at the old airport at Entebbe, from which to press their demands in replace for the discharge of Israeli hostages. The theatrical release of the hostages by Israeli commandos was a harsh blow to Amin. Embarrassed, he retaliated against an elderly hostage-75-year-old Dora Bloch- who was hospitalized in poor health at the time of the attack and was left behind. Bloch was kidnapped from her hospital bed and murdered on Amin’s orders, along with the complete civilian staff of Entebbe airport.


Amin’s government, conducted by often unpredictable personal public statement, continued on. Because he was uneducated his entire life – a disability shared with most of his senior and junior ranking military officers – Amin relayed orders and policy decisions verbally by telephone, over the radio, and in long confused speeches to which civil servants learned to pay close concentration. The administration became paralyzed as government administrators feared to make what might prove to be incorrect decision that would irritate or anger Amin in the least which would result in their instant arrest and imprisonment or summary capital punishment.

Shortly after Amin detained power, the minister of defense demanded, and was given, command of the Ministry of Education office building, but then the judgment was upturned by Amin for no clear reason. Essential education files were misplaced during their shift back and forth by wheelbarrow. In many respects, Amin’s government in the 1970s resembled the governments of nineteenth-century African royal family, with the same dilemma of enforcing commands at a distance, scheming rival factions at court, and gratifying loyal supporters with plunder. However, Amin’s rule was possibly less competent than those of the pre-colonial monarchs.

Spiritual disagreement was another feature of the Amin rule that had its beginning in the nineteenth century. After rediscovering his Islamic commitment in the effort to increase foreign help from Libya and Saudi Arabia, Amin began to pay more concentration to the formerly underprivileged Muslims in Uganda, a shift which turned out to be a varied blessing for them. Muslims began to do well in what economic opportunities yet remained, the more so if they had relatives in the armed forces. Construction work began on Kibule Hill, the site of Kampala’s most well-known mosque. Many Ugandan Muslims with a sense of history thought that the Muslim defeat by Christians in 1889 was finally being redressed. Christians, in turn, supposed that they were under blockade as a religious group; it was clear that Amin viewed the churches as probable centers of conflict. A number of priests and ministers vanished in the course of the 1970s, but the matter reached a climax with the strict protest beside army terrorism in 1977 by Church of Uganda ministers, led by Archbishop JananiLuwum. Although Luwum’s body was consequently recovered from a clumsily artificial “auto accident”, following investigations exposed that Luwum had been shot dead. This latest in a long line of atrocities was greeted with international disapproval, but apart from the continuous trade boycott initiated by the United States in July 1978, oral criticism was not accompanied by action.

By early 1978 Amin’s circle of close connections had shrunk considerably – the result of defections and executions. Because of his fierce temper as well as his unreliable and unpredictable behavior, it was gradually more dangerous to be too close to Amin, as his vice president and formerly trusted associate, General Mustafa Adrisi, exposed. When Adrisi was injured in a distrustful auto accident, troops faithful to him became restless. The once reliable Malire Mechanized Rulent mutinied, as did other units.

In October 1978, Amin sent troops still loyal to him against the mutineers, some of whom fled across the Tanzanian border. Amin then claimed that Tanzanian President Nyerere, his everlasting enemy, had been at the cause of his difficulty. Amin accused Nyerere of waging war against Uganda, and, hoping to divert concentration from his in-house troubles and rally Uganda against the foreign opponent, Amin invaded Tanzanian territory and officially annexed a section across the Kagera River boundary on November 1, 1978.

Uganda-Tanzania War

Declaring a formal state of war against Uganda, Nyerere mobilized his citizen army treasury and counterattacked, attached by Ugandan exiles amalgamated as the Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA). The Ugandan Army retreated steadily, expending much of its energy by looting along the way. Libya’s Qadhafi sent 3,000 troops to aid Amin, but the Libyans soon found themselves on the front line, while at the backof them Ugandan Army units were using supply trucks to carry their recently plundered wealth in the opposite direction. Tanzania and the UNLA took Kampala in April 1979, and Amin fled by air, first to Libya and later to a everlasting exile at Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The war, which had cost Tanzania an expected US$1 million per day, was over.

The Fall of Idi Amin, the UNLF and Obote II

In April 1979, a joint force of Ugandan exiles, under the umbrella of Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLF), and the Tanzania Peoples Defense Force (TPDF) overthrew Amin’s rule.

The UNLF was shaped through the support of President Nyerere of Tanzania at the Moshi Conference. It brought together a dissimilar group of Ugandan organizations and individuals with a general goal of ousting the Amin rule. The first UNLF government was led by Prof. Yusuf Lule as President and though well liked only lasted 68 days.

President Lule was followed by President Godfrey Binaisa, and then Paulo Muwanga whochaired the ruling Military Commission which prepared the December 1980 general elections. UPC was acknowledged winner of those elections though they were marred by several irregularities and usuallymeasured rigged. For a second time, Obote became President of Uganda.

During Obote’s second tenure as president, Ugandans went all the way through a very trying period. uncertainty, fuelled by the government’s own security organs as well as an ongoing liberation struggle distressed the country. An expected 500,000 Ugandans lost their lives in just 5 years of Obote’ssupremacy. The economy was devastated and so was the people’s faith in government.

NRA liberation struggleG:ugandaPolitics of Uganda – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia_filesYoweri_Museveni.jpg

In straight protest beside the marred elections of 1980, YoweriKagutaMuseveni, then Vice Chairman of the Military Commission and President of the Uganda Patriotic Movement, launched a liberation struggle. It was on February 6th, 1981 and with only 26 compatriots prepared under the banner of the National Resistance Army (NRA) that the war of liberation started.

As the NRA made amazing advances towards Kampala, having already cut the country off into two different managerial zones, elements of the UNLA on July 26th 1985 ousted Obote in a bid to find improved negotiating ground. The Military Junta of Generals Bazilio and Tito Okello replaced Obote II’s government.

By February 26th 1986 the “Okellos Junta” had fallen and shortly after the entire country was in control of the NRA.

The NRA’s struggle was exclusive in that, for the first time in post-colonial Africa, a full-fledgedrevolution, with no rear bases in a neighboring country and little external support, was eventually successful. It was basically an uprising of oppressed Ugandan citizens.

YoweriKagutaMuseveni was under oath in as the President of the Republic of Uganda. The audiousjob of rebuilding the entire country and its human fabric from scrape began. To enable this task, political parties were perched and Uganda was governed by an all-inclusive Movement system. A lot was to be achieved over the subsequently eight to ten years.

The NRA/M however persistent had to face the challenge of reactionary UNLA forces particularly in the northern part of the country.

The Movement System of Government

In 1995, a new constitution was promulgated creating a non-party all comprehensive Movement System of government. Under this system, political parties remained in abeyance. Elections to most political offices were by common suffrage. Marginalized groups like the women, the disabled, the youth and workers were given exceptional slots on all managerial units of Government. The military was also given demonstration in parliament. The characteristic of keeping this scheme was to be reviewed by referendum every 4 years.

General elections were held in 1996 under the Movement System.YoweriMuseveni was returned as President of Uganda. By this election, he became the very first Ugandan to be directly chosen to the post by common suffrage. In 2001, he was again returned by admired mandate to the Office of President

Return to Multi Party Politics

In July 2005 a countrywide referendum was held in which the people of Uganda determined to return to multi-party politics. The result of the referendumdistinct an end to the Movement System of government.

Current Political Position of Uganda

Uganda is a presidential republic, in which the President of Uganda is both head of state and head of government; there is a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the National Assembly. The system is based on a self-governing parliamentary system with universal suffrage for all citizens over 18 of years age. In a measure ostensibly intended to reduce sectarian violence, political parties were restricted in their activities from 1986. In the non-party “Movement” system instituted by the current president YoweriMuseveni, political parties persistent to exist but could not campaign in elections or field candidates directly (although electoral candidates could belong to political parties). A constitutional referendum cancelled this 19-year ban on multi-party politics in July 2005.

The presidential elections were held in February 2006. Museveni ran in opposition to number of candidates, of whom the most famous was the exiled Dr. Kizza Besigye. Museveni was declared the winner. Besigye suspected fraud, and discarded the result. The Supreme Court of Uganda ruled that the election was marred by coercion, violence, voter disenfranchisement, and other irregularities. However, the Court voted 4-3 to uphold the results of the election.

Ministries of Uganda

The following are the current ministries of Uganda:

Ministry of Water and Environment

Ministry of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development.

Ministry of Health.

Ministry of Public Service.

Ministry of Education and Sports.

Ministry of Justice & Constitutional Affairs.

Ministry of Local Government.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Ministry of Defense.

Ministry of Agriculture, Animal, Husbandry and Fisheries.

Ministry of Gender, Labour & Social Development.

Ministry of Energy and Minerals.

Ministry of Works, Housing and Communications.

Ministry of Internal Affairs.


Political Parties and its Leaders

Conservative Party

Ken Lukyamuzi

Democratic Party

Norbert Mao

Forum For Democratic Change

Kizza Besigye

Inter-Party Co-Operation

A Coalition Of Opposition Groups

Justice Forum

Asuman Basalirwa

National Resistance Movement

Yoweri Museveni

Peoples Progressive Party

Bidandi Ssali

Ugandan People’s Congress

Olara Otunnu

Source: CIA World Factbook

Structure of Government of Uganda


Judicial System of Uganda

The Constitution of Uganda was promulgated October 8, 1995 on the eve of Uganda’s Independence Day anniversary apprehended every twelve months on October 9 since 1962.The Government of the Republic of Uganda is a Democracy made up of three arms:

The Executive – comprising of president, vice president, prime minister, cabinet.

The Legislative – parliament.

The Judiciary – Magistrates’ Courts, High Court, Court of Appeals (Constitutional Court), Supreme Court.


Authority & Power of Local Government in Uganda

The scheme of Local Government in Uganda is based on the District as a Unit under which there are junior Local Governments and Administrative Unit Councils. Selected Local Government Councils which are accountable to the people are made up of persons directly selected to represent electoral areas, persons with disabilities, the youth and women councilors forming one third of the council. The Local Government Council is the principal political power in its area of authority. The councils are corporate bodies having mutually legislative and executive powers. They have powers to make local laws and impose performance. Whereas Administrative Unit Councils provide as political units to advice on planning and implementation of services. They help in the resolution of disputes, monitor the delivery of services and help in the preservation of law, order and security.

The urban areas Administrative Units are:

• Parish or Ward

• Village

The rural areas Administrative Units are:

• County

• Parish

• Village

The Municipality Local Governments are:

• The Municipal Council

• The Municipal Division Council

The Town Council is also Local Government

The city Local Governments are:

• The City Council

• The City Division Council

The District rural area Local Governments are:

• The District

• The Sub-county

The Local Government Act, 1997 gives effect to the decentralization of functions, powers, and services to all levels of Local Government to develop good governance and democratic participation in and control of decision-making by the people. The law also provides revenue, political and administrative set up of Local Governments as well as election of Local Councils.

The powers which are assigned to the Local Governments include powers of making local policy and amendable delivery of services; formulation of development plans based on locally determined priorities; receive, raise, manage and allocate revenue through approval and execution of own budgets; alter or create new boundaries; appoint statutory commissions, boards and committees for personnel, land, procurement and accountability; as well as establish or abolish offices in Public Service of a District or Urban Council.

The central Government is responsible for national affairs and services; formulation of national policies and national standards and monitoring the implementation of national polices and services to ensure compliance with standards and regulations.

Overview the Local Government Association


ULGA is a registered officially authorized entity, a body Corporate in its personal right and belonging to the local governments as members, with a authorization guided by its Constitution.

ULGA was created to represent and advocate for the constitutional rights and interests of Local Governments and to act as the negotiating group for its members.


ULGA’s mandate is to unite Local Governments, and provide them with Association member services, provide them a forum through which to come together and give each other support and direction to make common positions on key issues that have an effect on Local Governance. ULGA carries out this mandate through lobbying, advocacy and representation of Local Governments at local, National and International fora.

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Even though ULGA is not an limb of Government, the role of the Association is implicit and known by the state in a number of arrangements. These include; appointment by His Excellency the President of Members onto the Local Government Finance Commission (LGFC), active contribution in Sector Negotiations on the Conditional Grants with Sector Ministries, active contribution in the Decentralization Policy Strategy Framework (DPSF) and the Local Government Sector Investment Plan (LGSIP), and through demonstration of local governments and their interests in national for a such as the Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF) and National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO), Public Sector Management working Group (PSM-WG) , Decentralization Management Technical Working Group (DMTWG) among others.


United and Efficient Local Governments in Uganda


To unite all local governments and build their capacity for efficient and effective services to the population


To Build Democratic and Accountable Local Governments capable of delivering Efficient and Sustainable Services, through Lobbying and Networking.


The objectives of ULGA as stipulated in its Strategic Corporate plan of 2010-2014, an instrument that guides ULGA’s planning, budgeting and resource allocation are:

1. To support a strong ULGA uniting and representing the interests of members and providing them with efficient and effective services

2. Trusted Local Governments performing their mandated functions in an accountable and transparent manner

3. To ensure a conducive policy, legal and regulatory framework for decentralization and operation of LGs

Source: wikipedia


Every District and Lower Local Government Council is entitled to become a member of the Association upon passing a council resolution, adopting the constitution and payment of membership and subscription fees.

There are two categories of members, the District Councils as Higher Local Governments and Municipalities, Sub counties and Town councils as Lower Local Governments. Currently all the One Hundred and Eleven (111) Districts and over Eight Hundred (800) Lower Local Governments are members of ULGA.

Membership fee


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