IDI AMIN (PART 1)
- Amin did not write an autobiography, and he did not authorize an official written account of his life. Most biographical sources claim that he was born in either Koboko or Kampala around 1925. • Other unconfirmed sources state Amin’s year of birth from as early as 1923 to as late as 1928. Amin’s son Hussein has stated that his father was born in Kampala in 1928.
- Abandoned by his father at a young age, Idi Amin grew up with his mother’s family in a rural farming town in north-western Uganda. Guweddeko states that Amin’s mother was Assa Aatte (1904–1970).
- Amin joined an Islamic school in Bombo in 1941. After a few years, he left school with only a fourth-grade English-language education, and did odd jobs before being recruited to the army by a British colonial army officer
CAREER IN ARMY
- Amin joined the King’s African Rifles (KAR) of the British Colonial Army in 1946 as an assistant . He was promoted to corporal the same year, then to sergeant in 1953.
- In 1959, Amin was made Afande (warrant officer), the highest rank possible for a black African in the colonial British Army of that time.In 1961, he was promoted to lieutenant, becoming one of the first two Ugandans to become commissioned officers.
- In 1962, following Uganda’s independence from the United Kingdom, Amin was promoted to captain and then, in 1963, to major. He was appointed Deputy Commander of the Army in 1964 and, the following year, to Commander of the Army. In 1970, he was promoted to commander of all the armed forces.
- Amin was an athlete during his time in both the British and Ugandan army. At 193 cm (6 ft 4 in) tall and powerfully built, he was the Ugandan light heavyweight boxing champion from 1951 to 1960, as well as a swimmer.
- In 1965, Prime Minister Milton Obote and Amin were implicated in a deal to smuggle ivory and gold into Uganda from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- In 1966, the Ugandan Parliament demanded an investigation. Obote imposed a new constitution abolishing the ceremonial presidency held by Kabaka (King) Mutesa II of Buganda, and declared himself executive president.
- He promoted Amin to colonel and army commander. Amin led an attack on the Kabaka’s palace and forced Mutesa into exile to the United Kingdom, where he remained until his death in 1969.
- Amin began recruiting members of Kakwa, Lugbara, South Sudanese, and other ethnic groups from the West Nile area bordering South Sudan.
SEIZURE OF POWER
- Eventually a rift developed between Amin and Obote, exacerbated by the support Amin had built within the army by recruiting from the West Nile region.
- In October 1970, Obote took control of the armed forces, reducing Amin from his months-old post of commander of all the armed forces to that of commander of the army.
- Having learned that Obote was planning to arrest him for misappropriating army funds, Amin seized power in a military coup on 25 January 1971, while Obote was attending a Commonwealth summit meeting in Singapore.
- Troops loyal to Amin sealed off Entebbe International Airport and took Kampala. Soldiers surrounded Obote’s residence and blocked major roads.
- Amin announced that he was a soldier, not a politician, and that the military government would remain only as a caretaker regime until new elections, which would be announced when the situation was normalised. He promised to release all political prisoners.
- Amin held a state funeral in April 1971 for Edward Mutesa, former King (Kabaka) of Buganda and President who had died in exile; freed many political prisoners; and reiterated his promise to hold free and fair elections to return the country to democratic rule in the shortest period possible
- On 2 February 1971, one week after the coup, Amin declared himself President of Uganda, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Army Chief of Staff, and Chief of Air Staff.
- He announced that he was suspending certain provisions of the Ugandan constitution, Amin placed military tribunals above the system of civil law, appointed soldiers to top government posts.
- State Research Bureau (SRB) headquarters at the Kampala suburb of Nakasero became the scene of torture and executions over the next few years.
- Obote was soon joined by 20,000 Ugandan refugees fleeing Amin. The exiles attempted but failed to regain Uganda in 1972, through a poorly organised coup attempt.
IDI AMIN (PART 2)
- Amin retaliated against the attempted invasion by Ugandan exiles in 1972, by purging the army of Obote supporters, predominantly those from the Acholi and Lango ethnic groups.
- In July 1971, Lango and Acholi soldiers were massacred in the Jinja and Mbarara barracks. By early 1972, some 5,000 Acholi and Lango soldiers, and at least twice as many civilians, had disappeared.
- The victims soon came to include members of other ethnic groups, religious leaders, journalists, artists, senior bureaucrats, judges, lawyers, students and intellectuals, criminal suspects, and foreign nationals. In this atmosphere of violence, many other people were killed for criminal motives or simply at will. Bodies were often dumped into the River Nile.
- The killings, motivated by ethnic, political, and financial factors, continued throughout Amin’s eight years in control. The exact number of people killed is unknown. The International Commission of Jurists estimated the death toll at no fewer than 80,000 and more likely around 300,000.
- An estimate compiled by exile organizations with the help of Amnesty International puts the number killed at 500,000.
- Amin recruited his followers from his own ethnic group, the Kakwas, along with South Sudanese. By 1977, these three groups formed 60 percent of the 22 top generals and 75 percent of the cabinet. Similarly, Muslims formed 80 percent and 87.5 percent of these groups even though they were only 5 percent of the population.
- This helps explain why Amin survived eight attempted coups.The army grew from 10,000 to 25,000 by 1978. Amin’s army was largely a mercenary force.
- In August 1972, Amin declared what he called an “economic war”, a set of policies that included the expropriation of properties owned by Asians and Europeans.
- Uganda’s 80,000 Asians were mostly from the Indian subcontinent and born in the country, their ancestors having come to Uganda in search of prosperity when India was still a British colony. Many owned businesses, including large-scale enterprises, which formed the backbone of the Ugandan economy.
- On 4 August 1972, Amin issued a decree ordering the expusion of the 50,000 Asians who were British passport holders.
- Initially, Amin was supported by Western powers such as Israel, West Germany and, in particular, Great Britain. During the late 1960s,
- Following the expulsion of Ugandan Asians in 1972, most of whom were of Indian descent, India severed diplomatic relations with Uganda. The same year, as part of his economic war, Amin broke diplomatic ties with the UK and nationalised all British-owned businesses.
- That year, relations with Israel soured. Although Israel had previously supplied Uganda with arms, in 1972 Amin expelled Israeli military advisers and turned to Muammar Gaddafi of Libya and the Soviet Union for support.
- Amin became an outspoken critic of Israel. In return, Gaddafi gave financial aid to Amin.
- In June 1976, Amin allowed an Air France airliner from Tel Aviv to Paris hijacked by two members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – External Operations (PFLP-EO) .
- Soon after, 156 non-Jewish hostages who did not hold Israeli passports were released and flown to safety, while 83 Jews and Israeli citizens, as well as 20 others who refused to abandon them continued to be held hostage. • In the subsequent Israeli rescue operation, codenamed Operation Thunderbolt on the night of 3–4 July 1976, a group of Israeli commandos flew in from Israel and seized control of Entebbe Airport, freeing nearly all the hostages.
- Three hostages died during the operation and 10 were wounded; 7 hijackers, about 45 Ugandan soldiers, and 1 Israeli soldier, Yoni Netanyahu (the commander of the unit), were killed.
- By 1978, the number of Amin’s supporters and close associates had shrunk significantly, and he faced increasing dissent from the populace within Uganda as the economy and infrastructure collapsed as a result of the years of neglect and abuse.
- After the killings of Bishop Luwum and ministers Oryema and Oboth Ofumbi in 1977, several of Amin’s ministers defected or fled into exile.
- In January 1979, Tanzania People’s Defence Force joined by several groups of Ugandan exiles who had united as the Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA).
- Amin’s army retreated steadily, and, despite military help from Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, Amin was forced to flee into exile by helicopter on 11
- April 1979, when Kampala was captured. He escaped first to Libya, where he stayed until 1980, and ultimately settled in Saudi Arabia where the Saudi royal family allowed him sanctuary and paid him a generous subsidy in return for staying out of politics.
- During interviews he gave during his exile in Saudi Arabia, Amin held that Uganda needed him, and never expressed remorse for the brutal nature of his regime.
- On 19 July 2003, Amin’s fourth wife, Nalongo Madina, reported that he was in a coma and near death at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, from kidney failure. consequently died at the hospital in Jeddah on 16 August 2003.
- He was buried in Ruwais Cemetery in Jeddah in a simple grave, without any fanfare.