The earliest human inhabitants in Uganda were hunter-gathers. Remnants of these people are today to be found among the pygmies in western Uganda. Approximately 2000 to 1500 years ago, Bantu speaking populations from central and western Africa migrated and occupied most of the southern parts of the country. The migrants brought with them agriculture, ironworking skills and new ideas of social and political organization, that by the 15th - 16th century resulted in the development of centralized kingdoms, including the kingdoms of Buganda, Bunyoro-Kitara and Ankole.
In 1888, control of the emerging British "sphere of interest" in East Africa was assigned by royal charter to William Mackinnon's Imperial British East Africa Company (IBEACO), an arrangement strengthened in 1890 by an Anglo-German agreement confirming British dominance over Kenya and Uganda. The high cost of occupying the territory caused the company to withdraw in 1893, and its administrative functions were taken over by a British commissioner. In 1894, Uganda was placed under a formal British protectorate.
Britain granted independence to Uganda in 1962, and the first elections were held on 1st March 1961. Benedicto Kiwanuka of the Democratic Party became the first Chief Minister. Uganda became a republic the following year when it gained its independence on 9th October 1962 thus acquiring its Commonwealth membership. Sir Edward Mutweesa II was appointed as the first president..
In succeeding years, supporters of a centralized state vied with those in favor of a loose federation and a strong role for tribally-based local kingdoms. Political maneuvering climaxed in February 1966, when Prime Minister Apollo Milton Obote suspended the constitution and assumed all government powers, removing the positions of president and vice president. In September 1967, a new constitution proclaimed Uganda a republic, gave the president even greater powers, and abolished the traditional kingdoms.
On 25 January 1971, Obote's government was ousted in a military coup led by armed forces commander Idi Amin Dada. Amin declared himself 'president,' dissolved the parliament, and amended the constitution to give himself absolute power.
Idi Amin's eight years’ rule produced economic decline, social disintegration, and massive human rights violations. In 1978, the International Commission of Jurists estimated that more than 100,000 Ugandans had been murdered during Amin's reign of terror; some authorities place the figure as high as 300,000--a statistic cited at the end of the 2006 movie “The Last King of Scotland”, which chronicled part of Amin's dictatorship.
A border altercation involving Ugandan exiles camped close to the Ugandan border of Mutukula resulted in an advance by the Ugandan army into Tanzania. In October 1978, Tanzanian armed forces countered an incursion of Amin's troops into Tanzanian territory. The Tanzanian army, backed by Ugandan exiles waged a war of liberation against Amin's troops and the Libyan soldiers sent to help him. On 11 April 1979, Kampala was captured, and Amin fled with his remaining forces.
After Amin's removal, the Uganda National Liberation Front formed an interim government with Yusuf Lule as president and Jeremiah Lucas Opira as the Secretary General of the UNLF and created a quasi-parliamentary organ known as the National Consultative Commission (NCC). The NCC and the Lule cabinet reflected widely differing political views. In June 1979, following a dispute over the extent of presidential powers, the NCC replaced Lule with Godfrey Binaisa. In a continuing dispute over the powers of the interim presidency, Binaisa was removed in May 1980. Thereafter, Uganda was ruled by a military commission chaired by Paulo Muwanga. The December 1980 elections returned the UPC to power under the leadership of President Milton Obote, with Muwanga serving as vice president. Under Obote, the security forces had one of the world's worst human rights records. In their efforts to stamp out an insurgency led by Yoweri Museveni's National Resistance Army (NRA), they laid waste to a substantial section of the country, especially in the Luwero area north of Kampala.
Negotiations between the Okello government and the NRA were conducted in Nairobi in the fall of 1985, with Kenyan President Daniel Arap Moi seeking a cease-fire and a coalition government in Uganda. Although agreeing in late 1985 to a cease-fire, the NRA continued fighting, and seized Kampala and the country in late January 1986, forcing Okello's forces to flee north into Sudan. Museveni's forces organized a government with Museveni as president.
Since assuming power, the government dominated by the political grouping created by Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and his followers, the National Resistance Movement (NRM or the "Movement"), has largely put an end to the human rights abuses of earlier governments, initiated substantial political liberalization and general press freedom, and instituted broad economic reforms after consultation with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, and donor governments.
Sir Edward Mutesa II - 1962 - 1966
Apollo Milton Obote (Obote I) - 1966 - 1971
Idi Amin Dada - 1971 - 1979
Yusuf Kironde Lule - 13 April 1979 - 20 June 1979
Godfrey Lukongwa Binaisa - 1979 - 1980
Paul Muwanga - 12 May 1980 - 22 May 1980
Apollo Milton Obote (Obote II) - 1980 - 1985
Tito Okello Lutwa - 1985 - 1986
Yoweri Kaguta Museveni - 1986 to date