National Resistance Movement (NRM) Liberation Day in Uganda is celebrated on January 26 each year. The public holiday commemorates the date in 1986 when the NRM overthrew a government that was corrupt, known for civil rights offenses and practiced significant voter fraud to remain in power.
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Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, who became the chairman of leftist student groups allied with African liberation movements while studying political science and economics in Tanzania, was exiled from his home country of Uganda under the leadership of Idi Amin. While in exile, he founded the Front for National Salvation, overthrowing Amin in 1979.
Elections held in 1980 were believed to be rigged with Miton Obote named the president. Museveni and former president Yusufu Lule formed the National Resistance Movement which began a guerilla war against Obote’s leadership. On January 26, 1986, the NRM ousted Obote and Museveni named himself president. After taking office, he began working toward a Marxist-oriented government with no political parties, democracy and local resistance councils.
Under his leadership, Uganda has a growing economy, improved infrastructure and stable political leadership. Musevini appeased the Baganda by reinstituting the Kabaka and other royal palaces. He established himself as a civilised leader rather than a guerilla fighter. His party encouraged free trade and stimulated economic growth through the support of affluent members of the middle class while remaining connected to rural areas. Many rural areas suffered greatly under Obote so it was critical for Musevini to ensure law and order in those areas of the country.
Celebrations and Traditions
Celebrations typically begin on the evening of January 25 with fireworks in Uganda’s capital city of Kampala. On January 26, a military parade which involves all branches of the Uganda People’s Defense Force is held just outside of Kampala. There are also many feasts and sporting events scheduled in celebration of the holiday.
Some citizens in Uganda have begun to boycott the celebrations for Liberation Day, claiming that the NRM has grown as corrupt as the governments it overthrew. There are reports of a parliament that rubberstamps the desires of Museveni. Many believe the corruption extends to local government and special interest groups with their own agenda. Even in southern Uganda where NRM has had significant support over the years, there is growing resentment that the west dominates key positions in the party and government institutions.