Customised search for historical information

2 February 2012

On this day in history: Idi Amin declared himself President of Uganda, 1971

In 1962, the United Kingdom granted Independence to Uganda. That same year, a former Lieutenant in the King's Africa Rifles, Idi Amin Dada, became a captain in the newly formed Ugandan army. Amin became the protege of the then Prime Minister, Milton Obote, who quickly promoted Amin through the ranks.

In 1965, Obote made Amin a Commander of the Army, but the following year the Ugandan Parliament demanded an investigation into two men's involvement in an alleged operation to smuggle gold and ivory into Zaire. In response Obote declared himself president and set about crushing any opposition.

In 1966, Amin led an attack against Mutesa, Kabaka (king) of Buganda, who had previously been the ceremonial president of Uganda. Mutesa fled into exile, allowing Obote to cement his rule. The following year, Parliament passed a new constitution creating an executive presidency.

Over the next few years, relations between Obote and Amin became strained to such a degree that on 25th January 1971 Amin took the opportunity to seize power while Obote was attending a Commonwealth summit meeting in Singapore. Amin believed that Obote was planning to have him arrested for misappropriation of army funds. The military coup received widespread popular support, not least because he promised to lead a caretaker government until elections were held.

As it was, on 2nd February, Amin declared himself President of Uganda. His regime became notorious for its corruption and murderous repression of any perceived opposition. He also threatened neighbouring countries by building up his military forces.

In late 1978, Amin ordered the invasion of Tanzania to attack mutinous Ugandan troops, who had fled over the border. The following January, Tanzanian f counterattacked along with Ugan opposition forces. Amin's forces retreated resulting in him going into exile from 11th April 1979 until his death on 16th August 2003.

Related posts
First President of Senegal elected: 5th September 1960
Tanganyika and Zanzibar unite: 25th April 1964
Fouad became King of Egypt: 15th March 1922