Constitution of Uganda



The Constitution of Uganda is the supreme law of
Uganda }), is a landlocked country in East Africa. The country is bordered to the east by Kenya, to the north by South Sudan, to the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to the south-west by Rwanda, and to the south by Tanzania. The souther ...
. The fourth and current constitution was promulgated on 8 October 1995. It sanctions a republican form of government with a powerful
President President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) *President (education), a leader of a college or university *President (government title) President may also refer to: Automobiles * Nissan President, a 1966–2010 Japanese fu ...

First constitution (1962–1966)

The first constitution of Uganda was the product of the Ugandan Constitutional Conference and took effect at the moment of independence (9 October 1962). It provided for a system of Parliamentary democracy underpinned by constitutional supremacy. It provided for a complex system of devolution within Uganda: the Kingdom of Buganda gained particularly strong powers of self-government; the Kingdoms of Bunyoro, Acoli, Tooro and Ankole, and the Territory of Busoga also gained the status of "federal states" and were permitted to retain their own legislatures; while the remaining districts and the territory of Mbale were controlled directly by the central government. The 1962 constitution provided for most members of Parliament to be elected directly. The sole exception to this rule was Buganda, where MPs were selected by an electoral college made up of members of the Lukiiko (Buganda's own sub-national Parliament). The 1962 constitution was amended three times: first, and most importantly, it was amended in 1963 to replace
Queen Elizabeth II Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; 21 April 1926 – 8 September 2022) was Queen of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms from 6 February 1952 until her death in 2022. She was queen regnant of 32 sovereign states during ...
(represented by the Governor-General of Uganda, Sir Walter Coutts) as the head of state with the largely ceremonial position of President, elected from among the traditional rulers and constitutional heads of districts; in 1964 it was amended to make minor changes to the date on which the Legislative Assembly of the Kingdom of Tooro should stand dissolved; and in January 1965 it was amended for a third and final time to give effect to the outcome of the lost counties referendum. From 1963 to 1966, Uganda was referred to as the 'Sovereign State of Uganda', because of the strong monarchical element in the Ugandan constitutional set-up.

Second constitution (1966–1967)

In February 1966, during the political crisis that surrounded the gold scandal, the then Prime Minister (and Head of Government)
Milton Obote Apollo Milton Obote (28 December 1925 – 10 October 2005) was a Ugandan political leader who led Uganda to independence from British colonial rule in 1962. Following the nation's independence, he served as prime minister of Uganda from 1962 ...
suspended the first constitution, making himself both Head of State and Head of Government shortly after. On 15 April a new constitution was promulgated. This invisible "pigeonhole constitution" (so named because copies of it were posted in the pigeonholes of Members of Parliament) was overtly intended as a temporary measure "until such time as a Constituent Assembly established by Parliament enacts a Constitution in place of this Constitution". While repeating verbatim many aspects of the 1962 constitution, the 1966 constitution relabelled the position of leader of the party having the greatest numerical strength in the National Assembly as the "President". The 1966 constitution also downgraded the status of Buganda to bring it into line with the status of the other historic kingdoms, for example by retracting Buganda's previous privilege of indirectly, rather than directly, electing members to the Ugandan Parliament and abolishing the High Court of Buganda. Buganda refused to accept the new constitution, resulting in the exile of the Kabaka Mutesa II (who until the crisis had been serving as Uganda's first President) and the postponement of national elections under 1971. The first amendment to the 1966 constitution came into force on 3 June 1966, bringing Buganda into even closer alignment with the kingdoms of Bunyoro, Acoli, Tooro and Ankole, but downgrading Busoga to the status of a district.

Third constitution (1967–1995)

This constitution renamed Uganda as the 'Republic of Uganda'. The third constitution was promulgated on 8 September 1967 following three months of debate by a Constituent Assembly formed of members of the National Assembly. It was, in real terms, an amended version of the 1966 constitution but abolished all traditional rulers and all local legislatures and considerably expanded the power of the executive (at that time headed by Obote) at the expense of the legislature. Although the constitution notionally gave rise to a Parliamentary democracy, in practice the National Assembly had little influence. In 1969, the UPC was formally declared to be Uganda's only official party to create a
one-party state A one-party state, single-party state, one-party system, or single-party system is a type of sovereign state in which only one political party has the right to form the government, usually based on the existing constitution. All other parties ...
. The third constitution was partially suspended under Idi Amin by virtue of Legal Notice No. 1 of 1971 and largely ignored during his presidency. In particular, since the notice suspended Article 1 (supremacy of the constitution), it paved for the way for Amin to rule by decree. Further constitutional changes by made by the Constitution (Modification) Decree No. 5 of 1971, which provided that all executive powers were to be exercisable by Chairman of the Defence Council (a title Amin himself held) and the Parliament (Vesting of Powers) Decree No. 8 of 1971, which vested legislative powers in Amin and his council of Ministers. The legal status of the 1967 constitution following Amin's overthrow in 1979 was not clear. Legal Notice No. 1 of 1979 nullified Legal Notice No. 1 of 1971, and fundamentally recognised the 1967 Constitution as once again supreme, but also suspended parts of it and transferred numerous executive powers to incoming President
Yusuf Lule Yusuf Kironde Lule (10 April 1912 – 21 January 1985) was a Ugandan professor and civil servant who served as the fourth president of Uganda between 13 April and 20 June 1979. Early life Yusuf Lule was born on 10 April 1912 in Kampala."Lule, ...
. All legislative powers referred to in the Constitution were to be vested in the National Consultative Council (NCC) until such a time as a Legislative Assembly could be elected. Despite this, the NCC favoured going further and abandoning the 1967 Constitution altogether. This disagreement contributed to the NCC replacing Lule with Godfrey Binaisa in June 1979. Shortly after, Legal Notice No. 5 of 1980 provided for the establishment of a Presidential Commission. It expressly provided that "where any conflict arises between the provisions of this Proclamation and the provisions of the Constitution of Uganda or any other written law, the provisions of this Proclamation shall prevail". The 1967 Constitution was formally revived by Obote on his return to power in late 1980, but following his overthrow by Bazilio Olara-Okello in July 1985, the constitution was suspended once more. On seizing power in 1986, the National Resistance Army, under the leadership of
Yoweri Museveni Yoweri Kaguta Museveni Tibuhaburwa (born 15 September 1944) is a Ugandan politician and retired senior military officer who has been the 9th and current President of Uganda since 26 January 1986. Museveni spearheaded rebellions with aid of the ...
, confirmed that the 1967 constitution was supreme but partially suspended. In particular, the provisions in the constitution relating to the existence of a national Parliament and the election of the President were suspended for four years (later extended to eight). The detail of this suspension was set out in Legal Notice No. 1 of 1986, which nullified Legal Notice No. 1 of 1979 and invested executive powers in Museveni directly.

Fourth constitution (1995–present)

In 1988 the National Resistance Council established the Uganda Constitutional Commission and tasked it with reviewing the 1967 constitution and developing a new constitution. The mandate of the Commission was to consult the people and make proposals for a democratic permanent constitution based on national consensus. In its final report of December 1992, the Commission recommended that the new constitution be agreed by a mostly-elected
Constituent Assembly A constituent assembly (also known as a constitutional convention, constitutional congress, or constitutional assembly) is a body assembled for the purpose of drafting or revising a constitution. Members of a constituent assembly may be elected b ...
. Elections to the Constituent Assembly took place in March 1994. The output of that process, Uganda's fourth constitution, dated 22 September 1995, was adopted by the Assembly on 27 September and promulgated on 8 October. Much more detailed than the previous constitutions, it sanctions a republican form of government with a powerful
President President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) *President (education), a leader of a college or university *President (government title) President may also refer to: Automobiles * Nissan President, a 1966–2010 Japanese fu ...
. Compared to the 1967 constitution, however, the 1995 constitution more overtly attempts to achieve a balance of power between the executive, legislature, and other bodies whose independence is guaranteed by the constitution. For example, under the latter, ministerial appointments and government borrowing must be approved by Parliament; and the civil service is appointed by the independent Public Services Commission and Judicial Service Commission. The President no longer has the power to dissolve Parliament and Parliament can override a presidential veto with a two-thirds majority. The 1995 constitution stresses the notion of an independent judiciary, with the
Supreme Court A supreme court is the highest court within the hierarchy of courts in most legal jurisdictions. Other descriptions for such courts include court of last resort, apex court, and high (or final) court of appeal. Broadly speaking, the decisions of ...
as the final court of appeal. The 1995 Constitution of Uganda has restored all the traditional monarchies, except for the Kingdom of Ankole, but limits the Ugandan monarchs' powers to cultural matters only. Amendments in 2005 removed presidential
term limits A term limit is a legal restriction that limits the number of terms an officeholder may serve in a particular elected office. When term limits are found in presidential and semi-presidential systems they act as a method of curbing the potenti ...
and legalized a multi-party political system. However, amendments were made and the new Presidential term limits were removed in 2018. Qualifications of the President according to the Constitution of Uganda. (Article 102) A person to qualify for election as President must be— (a) a citizen of Uganda by birth; (b) not less than thirty-five and not more than seventy-five years of age; and (c) qualified to be a member of Parliament.


External links

The 1962 constitutionThe 1966 constitutionThe 1967 constitutionConstitution
, The State House of Uganda {{Constitutions of Africa
Uganda }), is a landlocked country in East Africa. The country is bordered to the east by Kenya, to the north by South Sudan, to the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to the south-west by Rwanda, and to the south by Tanzania. The souther ...
History of Uganda Government of Uganda Law of Uganda Uganda and the Commonwealth of Nations