Idi Amin File 1

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Life Uneasy for Fallen Dictators
©Associate Press London
By MAUREEN JOHNSON
October 29, 1998

---- cut-n-snip non Amin part of article ----

Uganda's General Idi Amin, living with several wives and at least 30 children in all-expenses-paid luxury in Saudi Arabia.

Human rights investigators say some 300,000 people were killed during Amin's eight years of blood-soaked rule after he seized power in a 1979* coup in the east African nation.

Now in his early 70s, Amin lives in the Red Sea port city of Jiddah, where he has been spotted on evening walks along the coast or attending Friday prayers in a nearby mosque.

The Saudi government pays his huge expenses, including cars, drivers, cooks, maids and a monthly allowance. In return, the Saudis -- who won't talk about their infamous guest -- demand silence and no political activity.

---- cut-n-snip non Amin conclusion of article ----

(*Bob's note: Actually, Amin took power in 1971 and was overthrown in 1979. This article was a portion of a longer article that dealt with a number of former dictators (thugs) like Amin, who are today living in exile with an increasing world desire to bring them to justice.)

Copyright © 1998 Associate Press 04:02 10-29-98.

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Amin, Obote, (should) Apologize
©New Vision (Kampala)
February 14, 1999

Kampala - Ex-President Idi Amin leading an opulent lifestyle in Jeddah still has fond memories of Kampala. In his first comprehensive face-to-face interview by a Ugandan journalist since 1979, Amin evinces nostologia for his days in power. He misses his favourite social spots in Kampala, recalls sports personalities and old friends.

The notoriety of his regime put Uganda in the global spotlight as a nation with an irate bloodthirsty daft leader. Ugandans are still scarred by his brutal regime.

Under his reign there was no sound political management to redeem the economic, social and political disorder. Amin's era was the onset of serious economic troubles in Ugandan history.

Ugandans have made a lot of sacrifice under the NRM government to rehabilitate the economy. Correcting past mistakes has been a tough task.

Amin in his exile could be better off, in splendour living in a posh exclusive suburb in Saudi Arabia City, in the neighbourhood of powerful oil Shiekhs, and driving expensive cars but he is not at home. His wrong deeds are reasons for his stay in exile.

Uganda is his home. Amin, Obote symbolise the past chaotic history of Uganda, that's why they are in exile and not at home today.

The two former leaders had the opportunity to put in place political systems to ensure that a former president remains in his country after his reign. But they thought that the army could keep them in power and they would rule forever.

Today the NRM has sorted out the mess, democracy is here to stay, the ballot can change governments, and change of leadership is by peaceful transition. This is the new Uganda.

In future ex-presidents will not need to go into exile but live peacefully in Uganda. What Ugandans want now is such a perfect system.

As for Amin and Obote they ought to apologise to Uganda for stifling democracy..

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Idi Amin's Untold Story. . .
©The Monitor (Kampala)
By Siraje Lubwama
April 11, 1999

Kampala - Today, April 11 marks exactly 20 years since Idi Amin Dada fled the country. Whenever he has been interviewed by journalists in the years since, Amin has talked about everything except his background prior to 1971. Those who know him well say Amin was born in Koboko former West Nile province. There is no precise date of birth, although it was between 1925 and 1928.

His father a Kakwa, a small community that speaks a Sudanic language. The Kakwa are a border tribe in Uganda and Sudan. Amin's mother was a Lugbara, a larger Sudanic group that lives around Arua town.

His childhood was not exactly happy, and his father is said to have abandoned them while the future Field Marshall, was still a baby. She is said to have left for Lugazi in Mukono district, to live among her tribesmen who were cultivating sugar-cane for the Mehta family there. It's not known what she did on the estate, but she was available.

She was also reputed to be a witch doctor. She later moved in with the military boys in the King's African Rifles (KAR) at Buikwe, and later latched onto a Corporal Yafesi Yasin, a clerk in the 'D' Company of the 4th KAR, and stayed in the Jinja Barracks.

Amin went with her. When Yasin tired of her and tried to chase her, Amin's mother reportedly bewitched him.

Amin's eventful life had began. They shifted constantly, he sold mandazi (doughnuts), learnt Luganda and Swahili largely "by heart" and became a Muslim.

In those days, any African who became a Muslim within the army was called a Nubian and so began Amin's "Nubian identity." Amin joined the KAR in 1946, a whole year after the end of World War II. He was first a kitchen hand, but because of his physique, he soon joined the regular ranks as a private.

He fit the bill of the "warrior tribes": Big, black, uncouth, uneducated and willing to obey orders. Amin learnt boxing and rugby and had an easy going manner about him. During the Mau Mau war, and Amin was deployed with the 'E' company of the KAR to Muranga district in Kenya. A corporal by then, Amin fought against the Mau Mau at Tuso, Kairo, Kinyona and Kangema during most of 1953 and was said to have cut his murderous teeth in Kenya. It's not clear who his victims were, but during this time, the KAR troops killed the Mau Mau Gen.eral Gitau Matenjagwo and paraded his body around the villages of Muranga for days. The liberty to wreak havoc on defenceless people also gave Amin latitude to indulge his huge appetite for women.

He made his make as a lover and contracted many bothersome STDs. On one occasion, he run naked down a street in Nakuru, after being caught in bed with the wife of a friend.

But he was still good enough as a soldier that in 1955, he went for a Sergeant's training course ad Lanet. In July 1961, Amin and Shabaan Opolot became the first Ugandans to become commissioned officers with the rank of Lieutenant. In 1962, he was active in Karamoja, trying to keep down cattle rustling between the Karimojong and Pokot (Suk). Amin's platoon shot many of the Pokot around the Alale area and left them to be eaten by hyenas. Amin's orders were to disarm the rustlers, but he certainly had the freedom to exceed is orders. It's alleged that whenenever he wanted the Karimojong to surrender their weapons, he would tell them to lay their penises on a table and threaten to "degood" them if they did not say where their spears were hidden. On one occasion he is said to have cut off the Gen.itals of eight such men before extracting a confession out of them. In 1962 Amin's "C" Company of the 4th KAR was posted to Turkana district in Kenya, once again to deal with cattle rustling.

Lt. Amin, as platoon commander, was in charge.

One day, he sent his men out to search for arms, but they didn't find any. He is said to have tortured a whole village before killing eight men and forcing their relatives to bury them.

Although the Turkana complained, Amin got away with it. Apollo Milton Obote, then Prime Minister of Uganda feared to prosecute Amin inspite of being asked to do so by Kenya's Commissioner of Police, Richard Catling, and Uganda's Governor, Sir Walter Couts. Obote feared the African reaction to a move against one of Uganda's leading soldiers only six months before the country's independence.

He ordered that Amin should only be served with a severe reprimand. "I warn you this officer could cause you trouble in future," Couts ominously warned Obote. At independence in 1962, Uganda's troubles started almost immediately.

There was Captain Amin who hated and feared the younger men who had joined the army directly from Sandurst Military College. Men like Ndahendakire, Kakuhikire, Okahura, Ndalebo and later Lukakamwa and Oyite Ojok.

Amin regularly told Army Commander Maj. Ian Grahame that they were drunken and undisciplined and arrogant. As the years went by, a split appeared in the army, with Amin training his own Kakwa faction in Mabira forest.

By 1968 he was brave enough to take Aggrey Awori, then Director of UTV, to observe their military exercises. The other army, the official Uganda army consisted largely of the "warrior tribes," the Acholi, Langi, the Iteso and the Bagisu. Among his colleagues, Amin was known to be a coward, who did not distinguish himself in Mobutu's war in the Congo in 1965. Officers like Francis Nyangweso, Omaria and Ekirin certainly talked about his cowardice back in Kampala.

Amin did not forgive them, but he bided his time. In Oct. 1969 then President Obote was shot and wounded in the mouth at Lugogo.

The army turned out in the streets immediately and a platoon went to Kololo to Amin's famous "command post" to inform him of the bad news and ask him to take charge. The burly soldier is said to have leapt over the fence and escaped, waved down a Mr. Nsubuga's Peugeot pick-up and begged to be driven to Bombo Barracks, where his tribesmen lived. The story leaked and at a later meeting of the Defence Council Brig.

Okoya, Amin's deputy as Army Commander, openly accused Amin of corwadic and desertion. Amin did not deny the charge, but later hired goons to kill Okoya and h is wife at their Gulu home.

It was Amin again, whom Obote sent to sack Kabaka Edward Mutesa's Lubiri Palace when the latter chased the central government from Buganda soil in 1966. Mutesa had Opolot's support, while Amin was in Obote's corner. On May 24, 1966 Amin, on Obote's orders flushed Mutesa out of the Lubiri into exile where he later died. Amin and Obote became fast friends.

They were also accused, by the now much talked about Daudi Ochieng, of smuggling ivory and gold from the Congo. But the "gold dust twins" as The Economist of London called them, also had their fair share of quarrels. Amin's private army, that was being talked about after 1967 certainly enraged Obote, and so, the president increasingly relied on Brig. Okoya, Col.

Omoya, Tito Okello and Langoya for support. Increasingly too, Obote went for the younger, more educated officers that Amin despised, and this explains the rapid rise of Oyite Ojok. Amin never forgave any of them.

Col. Omanya died in an alleged accident in 1968. Between 1969 and 1971, Obote and Amin vied for the control of Uganda army, with the president at once constantly moving around troops, while Amin organised the looting of armouries, and over-shooting the Defence budget. For a while Obote even toyed with the idea of dismissing, or arresting Amin.

Amin heard the rumours, and on one occasion he reportedly walked to Obote's office, professed his loyalty, placed his six pistols on Obote's desk, and asked the president to shoot him. Obote missed a bit.

But he wrote a letter asking him to account for the Defence budget. That was in January 1971, before the president flew to Singapore for the Commonwealth Summit. On January 25, 1971, Maj.

Gen. Idi Amin, son of a Kakwa peasant and a Lugbara mother who might have been a witch, seized power.

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Reign Of Terror: Amin's Unorthodox Methods
©New Vision (Kampala)
April 11, 1999

Kampala - Henry Kyemba was one of the technocrats who served in the Amin regime. He served as Principal Private Secretary and then Health Minister until he fell out with the dictator in May 1977.

He takes us into Idi Amin's administration. January 25th 1971 had seen the coup that overthrew Milton Obote and brought in Idi Amin. For sure, responses to the coup amongst the population were varied but certainly many people hoped for better times ahead. They were all, myself included, to be disillusioned.

I had met Amin around 1965 when he was a soldier stationed near my home at the famous Gaddafi Barracks in Jinja. He was a junior officer in the King's African Rifles.

I knew him because his girlfriend, and future wife Maryamu - was the daughter of my old headmaster, the late Kibedi - and sister to my good friend Joshua Wanume Kibedi. At that time Amin had something of a reputation for his sporting abilities.

Amin later tried to claim that he had had something of a war-time military record. He claimed he had fought in World war II.

He had infact joined the army in 1946 and his tales of military prowess were merely attempts to dramatise an otherwise undistinguished military career. His VC (Victoria Cross), DSO (Distinguished Service Cross) and MC (Military Cross), like most of his other "honours" were self-awarded.

Similarly self-awarded was his CBE (Conqueror of The British Empire)! It was shortly before independence that Amin first acquired notoriety for ruthlessness. He moved up in the ranks and had become one of the only two senior African officers in the King's African Rifles.

Amin was sent to quell inter-tribal fights in the Karamoja and Turkana and in the process killed a number of innocent civilians. He was almost court-martialed but was saved only because with independence approaching, it was regarded as politically embarrassing to take action against one of the only two Ugandan Officers in the army.

In the first few years of independence, Amin's power and influence grew. Obote, who came to rely increasingly on Amin, distrusted the other senior officer in the Ugandan army, Brigadier Shaban Opolot.

Obote, alas, gave Amin the opportunity to establish his personal fortune. At that time the Belgian Congo, later Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo, was in turmoil.

Obote wanted to aid the rebels who were still fighting the new government of Moise Tshombe and Mobutu. The rebels were losing.

Obote, bypassing the Army Commander Opolot, told his deputy, Amin to organise arms and transport for the rebels. Amin did so in exchange for truckloads of gold and ivory, that the rebels had seized in their retreat.

As time went on, Obote's political support dwindled. He began to imprison his political opponents without trial. Amin, now in full command, of the army, was effectively the guarantor of Obote's Government. Uganda was slipping towards military dictatorship.

Obote was of course conscious of Amin's power. Military coups were taking place all over Africa and a powerful military leader would automatically have been seen as a threat to democracy.

Amin knew of Obote's suspicions. Gradually the two became rivals. The showdown came on January 25, 1971. I was with Obote in Singapore for a meeting of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers. Amin thought that Obote was about to have him arrested. He decided to retaliate in advance and take over the Government.

On January 24, he contacted a few of his most trusted officers and told them to take over the armouries, a few tanks and the radio station. Within a few hours he was in a position to announce his takeover.

After the coup, it became more obvious that Amin was grossly inadequate for the high office of president. He was almost illiterate, his English was poor, he read very badly and clearly had a hard time just signing prepared documents! As his first Principal Private Secretary, I never ever received a handwritten note from him! Amin had no idea of governments were run.

He had no experience of civil service procedures or of modern economies. In the early days, the very thought of speaking in public made him break out into a sweat! At first, these very inadequacies, gave politicians inside Uganda and the intentional community some hope this state of affairs would not last.

We all thought - and Amin told us many times - that the traditional political life of Uganda would reassert itself, that elections would be held, that the civil service would not be interfered with, that the country would soon get back on an even keel. Because Obote had been so unpopular, Amin was acclaimed as a hero.

His regime was rapidly recognised by other nations. But disappointments were rapid as well. Rather than attempting to overcome his inadequacies, Amin was determined to eradicate all criticism of them.

He made barnstorming tours of the country with his cabinet. But instead of reading speeches prepared for him by able advisors, he preferred to speak off the cuff.

He began to promise heaven and earth to the crowds who gathered to listen to him. His ministers were expected to take down his promises and fulfil them.

But there was no way to follow up his orders with him and no money to pay for them. He refused to take the advice of his ministers and simply ignored the economic realities of life.

Anyone not complying became a saboteur and enemy. Amin's reign of terror spread rapidly from the barracks to every facet of life in the entire country.

Thousands were murdered and a few managed to escape into exile including myself but the vast majority of Ugandans remained at the mercy and whims of Amin's military machine. In my book, "The State of Blood," which I dedicated to the memory of one hundred friends murdered by Amin, written in 1977 while I was in exile in London, I listed some of those I knew were dead.

The list included among others my elder brother R.L. Kisajja, the Late Hon Shaban K. Nkutu, Chief Justice Benedicto Kiwanuka, Archbishop Janan Luwum, Frank Kalimuzo, Late Hon Basil Bataringaya, Late Hon John Kakonge, Prof. Emiru, Henry Kagoda, Mrs Dora Block and Bank of Uganda Governor Joseph Mubiru.(See table) Amin's reign of terror will continue to be a subject of debate for many years to come. How can one explain such man's inhumanity to man? Amin's friends and foes alike met the most grotesque deaths.

One could possibly try to understand the fate of the foes but what about his friends and very close relatives - wives included - such as Kay Amin? And simple terror, officially sanctioned against the population! A few cases: Uganda's first Prime Minister and former Chief Justice Benedicto Kiwanuka. I remember his case very well because he was grabbed at the High Court on the same day as my own brother was a bundled away from his place of work at Nytil Jinja for a similar fate.

The Chief Justice is not just any ordinary person. Common sense demands that he must be accorded due respect.

But to have him eliminated in such a humiliating manner! He was seized in broad daylight at the High Court; the Peugeot 504 that took him away was properly identified and yet the citizenry was not able to prevent it or to have justice done after the murder. The Minister of Works, Housing, Transport and Communications in Obote's first government, Shaban Kirunda Nkutu, was murdered by the state on January 11, 1973.

After the coup, he had retired to a quiet life of private business in Jinja and Kampala. Nkutu, who was a personal friend, was a very gentle and law abiding individual.

He had been very close to Obote (they had attended the same secondary school) and was senior in the Uganda Peoples Congress party, as National Chairman. He had risen in the hierarchy and I remember he was one of those ministers whom I, as Principal Private Secretary, did not have to ask the President if he would grant audience, whenever he came to our offices.

A former teacher, he had a huge number of friends and was well known for his calm disposition. Nkutu had chosen not to flee into exile.

He was an uncle to the First Lady, Mama Maryamu and her brother, the then Foreign Minister, Wanume Kibedi. He had been detained at Makindye Barracks after the coup but Amin had later released him and guaranteed his safety.

On that fateful day he was forcefully grabbed by Amin's State Research thugs at his office in Jinja. Ordinary people put up a fight to save him and stopped the security agents from putting him in the boot of a car.

They left but returned with reinforcements. They found Nkutu frantically trying to raise Amin on the telephone. He was taken away and brutally murdered at Gadaffi Barracks. His severely mutilated body was recovered from the Source of the Nile river waters and taken to Jinja Hospital where crowds soon formed.

It was taken away by the army, never to be seen by the family. The murder shocked the nation and Amin was forced to disclaim responsibility by announcing that Nkutu had "fled to Tanzania." A massive reward was placed on his head.

Everybody knew he had been murdered. Kibedi was in Ghana and when he confirmed the killing, he resigned as Foreign Minister and did not return.

The murder of Shaban Nkutu also took its toll on the marriage between Amin and the First Lady, Mama Maryamu who left the State House and fled the country. Perhaps one of the most obscure and horrific deaths related to Kay Amin, Amin's wife number two who was later officially divorced by Amin along with two others at the same time in 1974.

Kay Amin was first arrested early in August 1974 for being in possession of a pistol, a pistol she said belonged to her husband Amin himself. The trial Magistrate, totally at a loss, simply cautioned her and released her.

But worse was to come later. Around 14th August 1974, Kay's dismembered body was found in the boot of a car belonging to a Doctor Mbalu-Mukasa who had himself committed suicide early in the day! When I, as Minister of Health later reported this grave matter to Amin, he simply ordered me to have the dismembered parts sown back on to the torso and then arrange for him to view the body with the deceased's children after which it was flown to Arua for burial! There was no grieving.

Amin's Cabinet had almost an impossible task to perform in an environment of ignorance particularly as far as security matters were concerned. Disappearances of persons was classified as a security matter.

Internationally, Uganda achieved a terrible image. The East African Community collapsed and the expulsion of the Asian community disrupted our commercial and industrial life to the advantage of our neighbours who turned our country into a market for even the most basic needs such as soap and toilet paper.

In all this, there was clearly no alternative but to remove the dictatorship in its totality. Not merely Amin as a person. The occasion offered itself with Amin invading Kagera triangle of Tanzania in 1978. What followed is a familiar story

The final defeat of Idi Amin on April 11, 1979 found me at Evanston U.S.A., at the Northwestern University, several thousand miles away from the mother country I had been forced to flee.

I knew I would be more useful to my country if I waged my campaign from outside the country rather than risk death at home because of the vast knowledge I had of the happenings in Uganda. But would Ugandans take the opportunity offered or would it be spirited away? You all know or should know the answer as to what happened after the 11th April 1979.

The UNLF and the Tanzania People's Defence Forces ousted Idi Amin who was forced to flee for his dear life. Amin's rule had reduced Uganda to its knees and it was difficult even to imagine that anything could be any worse after him.

What was needed was the spirit of tolerance and compromise after April 11. But Uganda's conspiratorial and violent politics was to live on even after Amin and Obote II to our country s detriment and agony.

The recovery is still incomplete. Kyemba's book, State of Blood, which played a key role in exposing the Amin horror and won international acclaim has been reprinted in Uganda by Fountain Publishers, is available in bookstores.

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Idi Amin just won't go away
©The Monitor (Kampala)
By Wairagala Wakabi
April 30, 1999

Kampala - Ugandans Sunday April 11 celebrated two decades after the overthrow of the barbaric tyrant, Idi Amin Dada, but his ghost still haunts the east African country. The dictator captured power in a bloody coup in January 1971, overthrowing President Apolo Milton Obote. Amin was Dr. Obote's obedient Army Commander. Following the coup, Amin, an illiterate, was promptly given recognition by the international community - including the West - largely because Obote had become pretty unpopular: he had himself used the army to overthrow the first president, Sir Edward Mutesa, abolished the cherished institutions of traditional rulers, and banned political party activities. Amin's eight-year reign of terror put him at similar levels with the likes of Adolf Hitler and he is today regarded as one of the most notorious dictators in history.

He killed an estimated 300,000 people - including several cabinet ministers, a Ugandan Anglican Archbishop in charge of four nations, a chief justice and more. His torture chambers were legendary. "Up to today Amin is more popular than Uganda," remarks Kiyimba Balidawa, a business administrator educated in America. "In many parts of the country people know more about Amin than they do Uganda. Some know the country because of Amin, others indeed still think he is our president up to today." During his reign, educated people as well as Christians (who make up over 90% of the country's population) were persecuted, forcing many to flee to exile. The government and army were dominated by illiterates. Former Amin Minister, now Third Deputy Prime Minister, Brig. Moses Ali, says of Amin's inner circle: "Illiterates and sycophants were some of the people who spoilt Amin's government. They could not even read maps, they excelled in praising him, they were no better than Amin himself." In a move he said was aimed at putting business in the hands of Black Africans, Amin in 1972 gave all Asians in Uganda 90 days to leave the country. He claimed God had ordered him to do that in a dream.

The Asians' vast businesses were given to the president's cronies who mismanaged them and led to a phenomenal stagnation of the economy. Amin became famous partly for his for his easy lifestyle and buffoonery. He could address the United Nations General Assembly in Luganda (a Ugandan dialect), ride around town on bicycles or jeeps, hold boxing, dancing and swimming contests with sundry people. At six feet four inches and a professional boxer, the giant Amin once challenged the diminutive Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere to a boxing contest at a time the two countries' relations were strained. The dictator offered to enter the ring with Nyerere with one of his arms tied behind him. Nyerere wisely rejected the offer. Then Amin remarked that if Nyerere had been a woman, he (Amin) would marry him as he was beautiful. Later Amin attacked and annexed Tanzania's Kagera region, claiming (rightly) that it was Ugandan territory which colonialists had transferred to Tanzania. That move marked the start of the dictator's exit, as Nyerere mobilised Ugandan exiles, gave them troops, arms and training, and they launched a campaign which ousted Amin. He was a polygamist with five wives.

At one time he divorced three of them in a single announcement on national radio. After wedding one of them, Amin repeated the ceremony for the benefit of OAU presidents who met in Kampala. He had one of them murdered for loving another man. Her dismembered body was found in the boot of her lover's car. That same day the lover was found dead too. Big Daddy, as the West preferred calling him, was a promiscuous man who severally suffered with sexually transmitted diseases. It is said that while serving with the Kings African Rifles (KAR) in Kenya, he once run naked through the streets of Nakuru town after being found in bed with a colleague's wife. Recently The Telegraph of London wrote that the ex-dictator eats 40 oranges a day to keep up his sex power. He lives in a plush suburb in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and spends much of his time reading the Quoran, cruising around in convertible BMWs and Mercedes Benzes, and swimming. He conferred a doctorate of law on himself from Makerere University, declared himself a field marshal and life president of Uganda. He also awarded himself various titles like MC, VSO, CBE (Conqueror of the British Empire).

While his coup was supported by Israel, the CIA and the British government which were unhappy with Dr. Obote's socialist leanings, Amin later fell in bed with fellow Muslim states and he became a leading critic of Western imperialism and Israel Zionism. He supported Palestinians to hijack a planeful of Israelis and kept the hostages at Entebbe. They were, however, rescued by Israeli commandos in a daring operation in which several Ugandan soldiers (and Israel Premier Benjamin Netanyahu's brother) were killed. Amin's men later murdered an elderly hostage who had been transferred to hospital for treatment at the time the Israelites made the rescue mission. Amin's first task in office was to purge the army of all officers and men who were from the same ethnic group as Dr. Obote whom he had overthrown. He was afraid that they could plot a counter-coup against him. His favoured methods were disappearances of individuals, many of whose bodies were later recovered floating on the River Nile. Many others just discovered without trace.

Henry Kyemba, who served as Amin's principal private secretary and Health Minister before fleeing the country for Britain, says "Amin never knew anything about how a government is run. He could not write and he had problems reading. So it was very hard to work with him." Amin never had any formal education. But in 1946 he joined the colonial army called the King's African Rifles (KAR) as a trainee cook. Because of his towering physique, he was later recruited into the army. He learnt and excelled in rugby and boxing, which endeared him to the English army officers. He cut his murderous teeth in Kenya where he was deployed with the KAR to fight Kenyan Mau Mau movement that was fighting for independence from Britain. Amin, who commanded a section of fighters, was said to be especially ruthless. That earned him marks among the colonial army, so much so that by the time Uganda got independence in 1962, he was one of only two Ugandan commissioned officers.

Dr. Obote (as prime minister) sent Amin to then Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) to help the rebels who were fighting against Moshe Tshombe and Mobutu Sese Seko. In return the rebels gave Amin gold and ivory, riches that Amin and the Premier shared, and their friendship blossomed. And Amin became army chief. When he captured power, Amin promised to hand over to civilians shortly, saying being head of state was not the work for military men. But he must have found the seat too sweet, as he stayed on until April 11 1979 when a combined force of the Tanzanian army and Ugandan fighting forces kicked him out of Kampala. President Yoweri Museveni, who never seems to tire of talking ill against Amin (and Obote) said early this year that Amin has called Sate House Kampala three times seeking an audience with him (Museveni) but it has been refused. It is not clear what the ex-dictator has on his mind that he wants to tell Museveni. But the whole world is now convinced he has no more interests in being president.

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Amin's Wife Maliamu Returns Home After 25 Year Exile
©The Monitor (Kampala)
By Siraje Lubwama
June 7, 2001

One of former president Field Marshal Idi Amin Dada's wives, Maliamu, is leaving Uganda today after visiting the country for the first time since she went into exile, a family source told The Monitor yesterday.

Miliamu left the country well before Amin himself went into exile in Saudi Arabia in 1979, after a combined force of the Tanzanian army and Ugandan exiles deposed him.

She hardly made any public appearance from 1973, and it emerged later she had left the country in what sources believe was a domestic fallout.

Maliamu, who is staying in Kisasi, came for a funeral ceremony of a close relative and to attend to other family issues, our source said.

In 1972, Amin told his officers that; "It is not wrong for a man to marry more than one wife provided he can share out his love equally among his wives." Amin was officially married to four wives; Maliamu, Norah, Kay, and Sarah. He wed Sarah twice. Kay was killed in yet unclear circumstances.

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Idi Amin's legacy
©UPI
May 27, 2001

One would think that the older brother ofone of Africa's most notorious dictators would wear jackboots or at least crocodile shoes. But Ramadan Amin, brother of Idi, wore rainbow flipflops when I met him in his gated home in the Bwaise neighborhood of Kampala --flipflops, beige pants and a Hawaiian shirt. Sitting across from me in a beat-up recliner in his parlor room, Ramadan resembled a bullfrog with his round bulging eyes, flapping neck, gleamingpate and pot belly. It was the size of a beach ball.

He said he missed his brother, the ruthless general who is now living inexile in the Saudi Arabian oil refining port of Jeddah." I really miss him and it's difficult to see him," he said in gravelly Swahili. "I am not a very rich person, so there is no money to go and see him." Ramadan has only visited Idi once since returning to his old home in Bwaise in 1995.

Ramadan said Idi Amin was a "curious and adventurous child" when they weregrowing up. He remembers his early relationship with him fondly. He said he and his brother joined the army in 1955 against their parent's wishes." I had nice parents who looked after us and tried to give us a future. We both joined the army, but our father said we can not be in the army, so our father told me to leave the army but Idi stayed."

Idi Amin would rise to become Milton Abote's Army chief of staff until in 1971, when he successfully ousted him from power. And in a rare turn of events it was Abote that eventually ran Amin out of Uganda in 1979 by launching an attackfrom Tanzania."

I don't know how he is feeling in his heart, but from my limited contacts I think he is doing well," Ramadan said.

Rumors abound in Kampala that Idi Amin is a born-again Christian now, which is ironic in that he is considered to have killed 250,000 people between 1971 and 1979 in his plan to Islamicize a country that is less than 10 percent Muslim.

His method of choice for murder was the knife and the hammer. The torture chamber Idi Amin's soldiers used to slice and pound so many of his political opponents still stands in downtown Kampala, nestled betweenthe French embassy and the presidential palace. It is now headquarters to Uganda's intelligence service.

The people in an open-air market in Bwaise still remember Idi Amin. Onewoman joked, "You are a foreign journalist. He liked foreign journalists, he only killed two."

Another woman complained about the lack of medicine and infrastructure. "Idi Amin let the children teach the children in our schools because all of the educated people were forced to leave or were killed."

By the end of his rein in 1979, Idi Amin had given himself the title "President for Life." But when the official newspaper wrote about him they had to write the following paragraph-long title: His excellency, Field Marshall, Al-Haji, Dr. Idi Amin Dada, Life President of Uganda, conqueror of the British Empire, distinguished service order of the Military Cross, Victoria Cross and Professor of Geography." In 1979 when Idi and Ramadan were forced to leave their homeland, Idi fled at first to Libya and then Saudi Arabia. But Ramadan went to neighboring Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), ruled at the time by Mobuto Sese Seku. He said he was able to live well in Zaire because its leader "took care of me."

"When I left I had many accounts in Uganda, but when I returned the government told me they froze my money on account of me being the brother of Idi Amin," he said. "They promised me the money would be unfrozen, but I have been chasing it for about five years now and they have not yet paid me. And I have a big family to look after.

"His home is surrounded by an imposing 10-foot wall and a bright orange wrought iron door. Inside however his villa is quite modest. His parlor contained an old television covered by a lace doily and two ripped sofas. A Muslim calendar hung on the wall.

People shopping on Saturday in the market outside his house said Ramadan Amin was something of a fixer when his brother ruled Uganda. He wouldarrange contracts with the government for his friends in business and occasionally plead for a friend or associate's life, one woman told me. Now Ramadan owns a grocery and two butcher shops. When asked about his life under Idi Amin, Ramadan dismisses the question, answering curtly, "I was a businessman." He later adds, "We grew distant when he was in power. He was a much different man than when he was in the army."

Ramadan's unwillingness to discuss his life in Idi Amin's Uganda however may have more to do with current political climate. Earlier in May, SiziLaki, a government administrator under Amin was charged with murder for a crime allegedly committed in 1972.

At the end of the interview, Ramadan Amin told me he can see that Uganda is better off than under his brother. "Basically Uganda has changed and it has changed for the better," he said. Indeed it has. The Ugandan Military is no longer the deciding factor in politics, even though most activities for opposition parties are illegal.

And the medicines besides aspirin are widely available to people in rural villages. But he can't resist getting in one last dig. "There is big economic difficulty. I don't know why but the liberalization of the economy has made things difficult for the businessman. I don't paymuch attention to politics but things are hard for the small and medium-sized businesses."

It doesn't help that his brother is in Jeddah.

Copyright © 2001 United Press International.

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