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Uganda: The United States
Country Study > Chapter 4 > Government and Politics > Foreign Relations > The United States


The United States has had no significant geopolitical, business, or trading interests in Uganda, although a number of United States firms did a profitable business with Uganda, particularly during the Amin period. For the most part, the United States government has maintained a low profile, avoiding involvement in domestic Ugandan political issues, while administering a relatively small economic assistance program and seeking Uganda's support on several issues before the UN. For their part, the Ugandan authorities attempted to adhere to a policy of nonalignment that allowed them to criticize such United States policies as its intervention in Vietnam, while persuading the United States to expand its development assistance and to support an increase in Uganda's international coffee quota. After Uganda's break with Britain in 1973, the United States became Uganda's chief trading partner for a short time, but relations were nonetheless becoming strained. The United States Embassy was closed in November 1973 (although the Ugandan Embassy in Washington remained open), while United States firms supplied the government with security equipment used by the army and the notorious Ugandan intelligence service. In October 1978, the United States Congress ended all trade with Uganda. With Amin's overthrow in 1979, the United States Embassy reopened and provided emergency relief, particularly food, medical supplies, and small farm implements. When the second Obote regime indicated its pro-Western stance in 1980, the United States government responded with additional agricultural assistance.

The guerrilla struggle soon created new strains between the United States and Uganda, however, as the United States Embassy forthrightly reported to its Congress the pattern of growing human rights violations by government and army officials This issue came to a head in July 1984, when the United States assistant secretary of state for human rights and humanitarian affairs testified that between 100,000 and 200,000 Ugandans had been killed in the Luwero Triangle and that Obote's forces behaved much like Amin's army. The United States ambassador publicly added that under the Obote regime, human rights were ignored with greater impunity than under Amin. The Ugandan government denied the accusation and withdrew its military officers who had been training in the United States. When the NRM came to power, friendly relations were quickly restored. The United States aid program was reoriented to focus on immediate rehabilitation priorities identified by the Ugandan government, particularly the war-damaged areas in the Luwero Triangle and in the matter of the resettlement of refugees returning from Sudan and Zaire. Museveni visited Washington in October 1987 and February 1989 for consultations with the president and members of Congress.

Data as of December 1990

Last Updated: December 1990

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Uganda was first published in 1990. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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