Council for Social and Economic Studies P.O. Box 34143 Washington, DC 20043
Home Electronic Version
(Subscribers Only)
Prices / Subscribe
Recent Back Issues Sample Articles About JSPES

JSPES, Vol. 35, No. 4 (Winter 2010)
pp. 426-449

Political Violence in Uganda: the Role of Vigilantes and Militias

Paul Omach

Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda

This paper examines the proliferation of vigilantes and militias in Uganda, and their relation to the underpinnings of political governance. Vigilantes and militias are historically a reality linked to limited state authority. However, the current Ugandan vigilantes and militias are extraordinary because their activities enjoy tacit official support. The state has used them in counter-insurgency operations to protect communities and defend itself. The use of vigilantes and militias to fight insurgency is a manifestation of how regime security is prioritized by weak states. The state tacitly supports their activities as unofficial security groups. However, their existence is in reality undermining democratic governance, the rule of law and the development of normal security institutions.