On January 25, 1971, Uganda’s former president Milton Obote was ousted in a military coup and his former Army Commander, then Maj Gen Idi Amin, succeeded him.
Amin was sworn-in as the President of Uganda at a ceremony on February 1, 1971 in Kampala. A huge cheering crowd witnessed the change of guard. The following day, Amin signed a proclamation that abolished the Parliament of Uganda.
Paragraph three of the documents read: “Parliament is hereby dissolved and all legislative powers referred to in the Constitution are hereby vested in me”.
And paragraph 4 of the declaration stated: “All legislative powers shall be exercised by me through the proclamation of decrees evidenced under my hand and sealed with public seal”.
From 1971 up to 1979 when he was toppled in a Tanzanian-led war, Amin had signed almost 30 decrees. We reproduce nine of them that had a lasting impact on the governance of the country.
1. Trial by Military Tribunals Decree. 12, 1973
The Military Tribunal was first established in 1966 to try soldiers who had plotted to oust then Prime Minister Milton Obote in February that year. The decree by Amin establishing the new tribunal had emphasis on the words “Trial by Military Tribunal”.
Its main purpose was to try the Front for National Salvation (FRONASA) rebels and or supporters. They had been arrested from Jinja, Mbale, Gulu, Kabale and Kampala in January 1972. FRONASA was a rebel group formed in Tanzanian in 1971 and led by Yoweri Museveni. Officially, the decree came into force due to sharp increase in violent crime in the country, which the civil court could not handle.
The purpose of creating the trial by Military Tribunal Decree was, therefore, “to provide for the trial of certain serious offences such as treason, rape, murder, attempting to injure by explosives, robbery and kidnapping”. The first 11 victims of this decree were tried and convicted for treason in January and publicly executed on February 10, 1973, each in their home district.
2. Uganda Development Bank Decree. 23, 1972
One of Amin’s many achievements for Uganda was the establishment of the Uganda Development Bank (UDB) under this decree to promote and finance development in the various sectors of the economy by giving short, medium and long-term secured loans, among other finance obligations.