How Amin used charm, brute force to entrench self in power

Thursday April 11 2019

Elated.  Idi Amin waves to Kampala residents as

Elated. Idi Amin waves to Kampala residents as he drives a jeep on the day he became President in 1971. FILE PHOTO 

By Isaac Mufumba

Warrant Officer II Sam Wilfred Aswa, who announced the collapse of Apollo Milton Obote’s government, read out on Radio Uganda 18 reasons why Idi Amin had grabbed state power.
Amin had said he was not a politician, but a soldier, who would hang at the top briefly to prepare for elections and the country’s better future governance.
The news of Obote’s ouster stirred limitless excitement locally and beyond. Why? His government had wronged or rubbed the wrong way different segments of the Ugandan society and international actors in different ways.

The Baganda harboured hatred against him for abolishing traditional kingdoms and exiling their king Edward Frederick Mutesa II.
Supporters of the Democratic Party (DP) loathed Obote for outmanoeuvring them by forging a political alliance with Buganda Kingdom loyalist party, the Kabaka Yekka, which catapulted him to an electoral victory and control of the central government.

The Catholics felt marginalised in a government dominated by Protestants, according to accounts captured in a book titled, Religion, conflict and democracy in modern Africa: The role of civil society in political engagement, published on March 2, 2012, as part of Princeton Theological Monograph series.
Obote’s 1969 and 1970 Move-to-the-Left policy pronouncements, contained in five key documents, key among them being The Common Man’s Charter, was a swing to socialism. It resulted in full or partial nationalisation even of private enterprises, which alarmed the West.

He was considered a threat to capitalism and an ally of the East during a polarising Cold War era where most African countries were lackeys for one powerful bloc or the other.
The Ugandan leader’s spirited fight against the Apartheid regime in South Africa placed him on direct head-on collision with Britain that, alongside Israel, allegedly plotted his downfall and installed Amin whom they had nurtured in the army.

Tomorrow, we look at Amin’s economic war and the case he made for expelling Asians.
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