Idi Amin Comes Out of Coma New Vision (Kampala) July 24, 2003 Alfred Wasike FORMER Ugandan President Idi Amin has finally emerged from a nearly week-long coma and his condition is improving, sources at a hospital in the Red Sea city of Jeddah said Wednesday. "He's out of a coma and his condition is improving. However, he remains in the intensive care unit," the hospital sources told the French news agency, AFP, yesterday, at King Faisal Specialist Hospital, one of Saudi Arabia's top medical centres. The King Faisal Specialist Hospital officials refused to specify the exact cause of Idi Amin's illness or provide details about his condition at the request of family members who have been living with him in Saudi Arabia in obscurity for more than 10 years. On Tuesday, the Minister for the Presidency, Ali Kirunda Kivejinja, told The New Vision that although Amin was still in danger and in intensive care unit, he could painfully recognise close members of his family. On Tuesday, one of his wives, Madina and a daughter travelled to Jeddah from Kampala facilitated by the Government. President Yoweri Museveni announced in Kampala on Tuesday that Amin whose 1971-1979 reign was characterised by a bloody regime in which at least 400,000 Ugandans are estimated to have been killed, or are unaccounted for will not get a state funeral if he dies but that his body can be returned home for burial. Museveni vowed to arrest Amin for alleged atrocities committed during his time if he returned to Uganda alive. Idi Amin, a Muslim now in his eighties, was admitted to hospital last Friday. His 1971 to 1979 reign in Uganda following a military coup was one of the bloodiest in Africa's modern history, and Amin has not been back to his country since joint forces of Tanzanian troops and Ugandan exiles ousted him on April 11, 1979.
Amin Before Public Opinion Court New Vision (Kampala) July 24, 2003 Chibita Wa Duallo News that former president Idi Amin is critically ill has sparked off a frenzied debate. The debate has several lawyers to it. There are those debating the politics of his return, and others debating the legality of it. Moral, social and humanitarian aspects of his return are also being considered. The other issue that has been muddled up about his return is whether he should be returned dead or still alive. Unfortunately, Amin himself is reportedly unable to participate in this debate because he is in a coma. Would he, himself, have wanted to return home or be returned home to be buried among his ancestors in Koboko or not? The answer to this can only be given by the man himself. Alternatively, those who have been by his side all these years should be able to give a pointer as to what his wishes are. Of course if he wrote a Will, then this should contain all these details. After all, a Will comes in handy for such times as these! If Amin had been an ordinary mortal, these questions would not have interested or engaged the public much. His immediate family would have had to wrestle with these questions and resolve them quietly and privately. But Amin is a former President of Uganda who ruled Uganda from 1971, when he overthrew Milton Obote, to 1979 when the Tanzanian army with sections of Ugandan exiles drove him out of power. Not only is he not an ordinary Ugandan, he was not an ordinary President. His regime is accused of causing the death and disappearance of hundreds of thousands of people. The people aggrieved by his regime, have all along been advocating his extradition so that he faces justice. Many of these, therefore, may not think that sickness or death should offer an escape for the man they believe should be brought to account for his regimes many heinous crimes. The nature of criminal law, however, is such that it is committed by an individual. It is that individual who forms the intention and it is that individual, sometimes in concert with others, who executes the crime. The punishment therefore, has to be prescribed and meted out against that individual who masterminded or ultimately committed the crime. There is no vicarious liability, as such, in criminal law. Therefore, there can be no punishment on behalf of another. This also means that there cannot be post-humus punishment or trial, for that matter. That is why murder-suicides usually end any attempt at investigation, trial and conviction because there is nobody to try and convict. Being in coma also exempts him from standing trial. Obviously he does not have the mental or physical capacity to stand trial. Somebody must be possessed of all his mental capabilities to be able to stand trial. That is why even someone of unsound mind cannot stand trial, as such. Hence insanity can be a defence to many crimes because one is not sufficiently possessed of all his faculties to make logical decisions. A person who cannot, or is not in a position to, plead guilty or not guilty, is ultimately unable to answer for his crimes. A person in coma, a dead person and an insane person are all in this category. Some people have argued that a post-humus trial should go on all the same, for the record even if a notorious criminal is dead. That record, however, would be one-sided because it would not contain the accused persons' testimony. Such a trial therefore would be null and void. In the case of Amin, the pertinent question to ask those advocating post-humus trial would be; why was the man not brought to trial while he was still alive and kicking? Why wait for him to go into coma before remembering that he had some questions to answer? This is not to say that he was a saint. Just to suggest that maybe the country had reached a quiet understanding to let sleeping dogs lie. If so, then that understanding should be left to continue until the man is called to meet his Maker whereupon, he will have gone beyond the reach of our human criminal law, as already pointed out. Whether his remains should be brought back for burial among the ancestors, or not, may not be so much of a legal question as it is a political and social one. The argument of amnesty under the Amnesty Act does not arise because the Act does not cover the Amin period. The amnesty only applies to those engaged in or engaging in war or armed rebellion against the Government of the Republic of Uganda since 26th January 1986. The crimes Amin is accused of committing happened between 1971 and 1979. Some have suggested that President Museveni should exercise his prerogative of mercy in the case of former President Amin. This, however, is not how this prerogative is exercised. There has to be a trial, conviction and sentence before the President can consider exercising his prerogative of mercy, as happened in the case of Nassur Abdallah. There cannot be forgiveness without conviction, as far as the prerogative of mercy is concerned.
Ugandan Embassy Officers Visit Former President Amin The Monitor (Kampala) July 24, 2003 David Kibirige Ugandan embassy officials in Saudi Arabia visited ailing former President Idi Amin on Tuesday. Amin is admitted at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Jeddah. He is suffering from hypertension and general fatigue, and is quite overweight at a reported 220 kilos. His wife Madina and two children, Mr Mwanga Amin and Mr Hussein Kato, are attending him. Uganda's charge d'affaires in Saudi Arabia, Mr Isaac Sebulime, confirmed the visit but gave no details. "We have an agreement with Amin's family not to disclose private things. You very well know that government has helped the family. We want to respect the agreement not to disclose Amin's private life," Sebulime said. But he added: "In our culture visiting the sick is very important." Family members in Kampala told The Monitor that Madina had again called to confirm that her husband is steadily recovering. Amin has come out of a coma and his condition is improving, another source at the hospital told the AFP. He remains in the intensive care unit at one of Saudi Arabia's top medical centres, the source said, giving no further details. Amin has lived in exile since 1979. He overthrew Mr Milton Obote's first government on January 25, 1971 and ruled until April 11, 1979 when a combined force of Ugandan exiles and the Tanzanian army toppled him. He first fled into exile to Libya, then to Iraq, from where he relocated to Saudi Arabia in December 1980. In Saudi Arabia, the ruling royal family barred him from getting involved in active politics. Amin was also largely barred from speaking to journalists.
What Does Amin, Madiba Have in Common? The Monitor (Kampala) OPINION July 26, 2003 Simwogerere Kyazze So on July 18, Gen. Idi Amin was rushed to the King Faisal Hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, suffering from something his doctors didn't want to disclose, but most likely a diabetic complication. On that same Friday several time zones from the Gulf, Mr Nelson Mandela (who needs no introduction) was celebrating his 85th birthday. To Ugandans of course, Amin was the big news, with banner headlines detailing his coma, proclamations about his imminent death, talk-shows remembering the "Big Daddy", his possible return shooting to No. 1 on the talk-of-the-town food chain, travel allowance for some of his relatives and even President Yoweri Museveni weighing in on the raging debate. For Mandela, there were no such debates of course. The Guinness Book of Records is considering his world record for the most SMS messages sent to one person in single day (20,000); he opened a spanking new Nelson Mandela bridge that cost $25 million in Johannesburg, and some of the world best known celebrities among 1,600 guests attended a birthday party for him last Saturday. People like Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jackson, and Robert De Niro are world famous in their own right, but they fawn over Mandela like he's a reincarnation-and they've surely run out of clichés to describe what effect he has on them. Indeed, one of the pleas international celebrities (footballers like David Beckham, singers like the Spice Girls, boxers like Lennox Lewis, and actors like Whoopi Goldberg) make before signing onto anything South African, is for a guaranteed photo-op with Madiba. "What good are you if you cannot guarantee a meeting with Mandela," they sneer at the lazier minders. "And why are you sending me down there anyway!" So the poor old man usually meets about two or three celebrities per week-people who are as rare as rain on Mars in their own countries. But he doesn't mind much, because as old as he is, Mandela loves celebrities back. But we are digressing. Mandela earned his living saint pips almost by accident. Just as random, is Amin's notoriety, which will forever be the first thing to come to mind when Uganda is mentioned in New Orleans or Moscow. Mandela was not the first, and will not be the last political prisoner. Why, he wasn't even the solitary Robben Island prisoner of the apartheid regime. The late Govan Mbeki, father to South Africa's current president, committed the same "crimes", was incarcerated on the same famous island, broke the same stones, ate the same food, was as committed to the struggle as Mandela was, and even sired a thoroughbred (pardon the French) who went on to run the country. How many people know when he died; or that he even died? See, Mandela spent the 27 years that mattered in jail. It's like sweepstakes, or Lotto. You all scratch the same cards, but there can only be one winner. Same goes for Amin. His dreams were no grander than those of Emperor Jean Bedel Bokassa, late of the Central African Republic, his bombast no less annoying than that of his good friend Col. Muammar Gaddafi of Libya. As for Amin's alleged cannibalism; well, there are some fellows in the eastern D.R Congo, said to be friends of Uganda, whose culinary tastes are similarly inclined. In 2003. Sure Amin expelled thousands of Asians and stole their properties in 1972. But Jews had seized what was left of an entire country from the Arabs five years earlier! Amin pissed off the Brits; and the Americans; the French, and every nationality in between. Ditto Robert Mugabe. Amin killed innocent people. C'mon! Have we been following the same OAU/AU/ECOWAS summits? Those gatherings are a who's who of those who will be stoking the fires of Hades-if it exists. Amin's "luck" was to rise to prominence at a difficult time in the world-the OPEC-led oil boycott of the West and real bite in the Cold War. He was kind of a pioneering African-part buffoon, part calculating businessman, part cold-blooded killer-and the world could not resist watching in horrified fascination (or fascinated horror). That was his, and Uganda's "luck" and no matter what we do or say, there will always be a sense that our country literally returned from the dark ages when the NRM took power in 1986. Never mind that the early 1980s were perhaps the most difficult times for Ugandans. Ever. So what to make of Mandela at 85 and ironically very fit, and Idi Amin at 80 and expiring? Call it an accident of birth. Because it's conceivable for Mandela to have been born in Uganda and been brutally murdered for his protestations. And for Amin to have been born in South Africa and be feted by the king of schmooze himself, Bill Clinton. The religious among us might want to look for parallels in the story of Esau and Jacob.
Amin's Old Friend Recalls Good Times The Monitor (Kampala) July 26, 2003 Hussein Bogere For many people, polite and soft-spoken wouldn't be the words to describe former Uganda president Idi Amin Dada. However, there are people who think that he fitted that description like a hand and glove. Don Bowser of No. 7 Cooper Road is one of them. By the time Amin took over power in 1971, Mr Don Bowser, an 83-year old Briton, had spent 19 years in Uganda. "I came to Uganda in 1952 shortly before I joined The Uganda Fish Manufacturing Company, (TUFMAC)," he said. The factory that used to freeze tilapia for export was based in Kasese along Lake George. Bowser and Amin met in the King African Rifles (KAR). "He was a very good fighter, I think he should have stayed in the army," Bowser says about Amin's ascendancy to power. "The British made him a Warrant Officer because they liked him." According to Bowser, that was a high rank in those days. Bowser together with Bob Astles, Amin's military advisor and Taylor Robert the then managing director of Cooper Motors, had some memorable moments with Amin. "He would invite us for a drink after fishing at his lakeside house popularly known as Cape Villa," Bowser says nostalgically. It was at one of these social gatherings with chosen friends that Amin would show the passionate side of himself. "I found him a very polite man especially, before the ladies." Bowser remembers one time when he had one too many after a sumptuous lunch. "He thought that I had taken a lot of whisky that I should not take any more. He told his escorts to drive me home after barring me from driving." Bowser doubts rumours that Amin was a cannibal. "The time I spent with him, he never showed any signs of cannibalism." He however notes that Amin was not a practising Muslim. "I never saw him pray." After the closure of the British High Commission in 1973, Amin continued encouraging Bowser and his friends to visit him at one of his houses on a Lake Victoria island. "He joked that he would look after us better than the High Commission." Another time, Bowser while working with Equator Metal Works met Amin when he was carrying out his 'Keep Kampala Clean campaign. "He came out of his jeep and started sweeping the streets." He says that Amin had a passion for jeeps. "He would drive around Kampala without his escorts. He never feared anyone." At the time Amin chased the Asians out of Uganda, Bowser was working with Kichwamba Hotel in Western Uganda. Up to the 89th day, Asians could still not believe that the man was serious. "We spent that night drinking at the hotel. Among the Asians was Kampala business tycoon Sudhir Ruparelia who was about five-years-old at the time, and his parents. "Amin's soldiers came and tried to chase the Asians away but my wife intervened by telling them that we were having a cocktail, they could come back the following day." Disciplined as they were, they came back in the morning. Bowser says that their journey to Kampala was trouble free. Amin's soldiers were very disciplined they never looted or beat up any one. Despite his differences with Europeans, Bowser says that Amin had a soft spot for white women. "He was always polite and soft-spoken to them." He always said that he wanted to marry one of the British princesses. Amin's love for sports was known to all and sundry. "He was a very keen sportsman. He used to swim with my daughters and his children. He also liked playing rugby, boxing and motor-rallying." Amin was once a national heavy weight-boxing champion. He enjoyed travelling, especially in Uganda - maybe because he had few friends outside. Bowser recollects how Amin took them to Mutukula to show them how vast Uganda was. "He stood in front of us, pointed at the wilderness and said 'that is all Uganda.' Ironically, the forces that toppled him used the same border post. Bowser also says that Amin believed that Uganda stretched eastwards up to Nakuru in Kenya. Amin's shortcoming was in politics. The time he came to power, Bowser says many people were fed up with Obote. "He had attacked the kingdoms, imposed himself as the president with his Common Man's Charter." Obote was overthrown while attending a Commonwealth conference in Singapore. Amin had served as his army commander. Bowser believes that a military man cannot make a good ruler, and that is why Amin failed as a president politically. It was therefore no surprise that he committed gaffes and atrocities. Some of the atrocities of his regime that stand out were the killing of Archbishop Janani Luwum and Chief Justice Benedict Kiwanuka. "That was nasty, any killing is nasty", Bowser says. He said there was a lot of outcry from the public about those deaths but Amin did not show any concern. Contrary to what many people say, Bowser knows of only one European, Mr Bob Scanlon that disappeared during Amin's regime. He used to sell tyres at Kisementi, and has never been seen since. Amin also hated being opposed. He would hunt down any one that did that. As such, there were many public prosecutions of which Bowser witnessed one in Mbarara. "Our hotel overlooked the field where they were carried out. It was disgusting." Bowser also remembers the time the author of The White Pumpkin - a book that described Amin's buffoonery, was arrested. Amin humiliated a British senior officer Gen Blair - who flew from London to plead for Dennis Cecil's life. Amin flew to Arua, where he sat in a grass thatched hut. But for Gen Blair to get into the hut, he had to kneel and crawl through the entrance. And kneel he did. That made Amin's day. And there is that popular photo of Amin being carried shoulder high by a group of Britons. That should have been Bowser carrying Amin but he declined to participate after being approached by Bob Astles. "I refused flatly, there was no way I was going to be party to that." All in all, Bowser says that Amin was never ruthless to whites. He was polite and given his size, he was very soft spoken. Bowser says he had no problem with him personally. That is why he thinks that he should be buried here if he loses the battle for his life. "If he came here alive, that would cause a lot of problems but it wouldn't be a good thing for him," he said.
Idi Amin - His Legacy, Deeds And Misdeeds The Monitor (Kampala) July 26, 2003 Timothy Kalyegira It remains a mystery to many why, 24 years since being deposed from power on April 11, 1979, the former Ugandan strongman and head of state Idi Amin, should remain such a source of fascination and in the minds of many around the world. Amin signs the proclamation abolishing parliament shortly after his coup in 1971 as his aides look on (File photo). Amin is usually the first name that comes to mind when Uganda is mentioned, in spite the globetrotting and undeniably brainy President Yoweri Museveni (or the bed-trotting Gaetano Kaggwa of Big Brother Africa and the Ugandan-born singer Lou Bega). Amin's place and role in Uganda's history will remain notable for many reasons and a combination of reasons, for many years to come. His nearly eight and a half-year rule was one of the most memorable, infamous, absurd, nightmarish, dramatic and crucial in modern world history. Any number of the dramas surrounding the Amin years could, by and of themselves, be historical events worth remembering and studying for years to come. Coming as they did - all combined in the rule and personality of one man, they made for a sense of melodrama and a chronicle in evil that to this day exercises the minds of world historians and analysis of human behaviour. For the army commander Major-General Idi Amin to seize power in a 'bloodless' military coup on January 25, 1971 at the age of 46, was not in itself a particularly unusual event given the wave of military coups that were at the time starting to become commonplace in Africa. However the first series of events that made serious analysts realise that these were special times, came in August 1971 when Amin embarked on a purge of army officers from the northern Nilo-Hamitic Acholi and Langi tribes. He feared they might retain a lingering loyalty to the deposed president Milton Obote. (Obote is a Langi and much of the rank-and-file and officers corps of the 1960s army was drawn from the Acholi and Langi tribes, related to the Dinka of southern Sudan.) A group of these officers was taken to the Makindye military police barracks in the capital Kampala, locked in a room and then grenades were lobbed into the room, killing all of them. It was the callous and brutal way that this purge was undertaken; this enjoyment of the sight of human helplessness and terror on the part of Amin's henchmen that sent shivers of fear through the minds of Ugandans who got to know what had happened. Then more than a year later, in August 1972, the president, on a visit to the eastern town of Tororo, claimed that in a dream by night, God had ordered him to expel from Uganda the 90,000 Ugandan Asians who held British passports. Shock waves were felt as far off as India, the world's second most populous nation, as well as all across East Africa where Asians dominated merchant trade. Although this proposal to force the Asians to choose between full Ugandan or full British citizenship was first mooted in 1968 by the Obote government, it took an Idi Amin to execute it. He did infuse it with all the drama, heedlessness, and bizarre imagery that made many in the western world wonder - could Africans indeed, be literal savages? How, in this modern world of the nation-state, international accords, scientific method, and world opinion, could the head of state of a country make a decree based on - of all things - a dream? How could the economic stability of one of Africa's hitherto most promising nations be so suddenly disrupted by the whims of one man? But these events were but mere opening performances in a drama that would shock, confuse, enthral, and scandalise the world for the rest of the 1970s. A lot of brutal actions followed as the regime nipped out any perceived opposition, real or imagined. Amin was reported, by his former Principal Private Secretary and Minister of Health, Henry Kyemba in his 1977 book A State of Blood to have eaten the flesh of some of his most prominent victims. Nothing in modern world history had ever approached this carnage in Uganda. Of course it did not help the reputation of the Black people that this particular series of gruesome events was taking place deep in the heart of Black Africa. Stereotypes of many centuries were reinforced the leader in Uganda. In its March 7, 1977 special cover story on Amin, Newsweek reported that the Nubians - the Nilotic southern Sudanese and Ugandan ethnic group that had come more and more to form Amin's trusted inner circle in the army and intelligence services - had the world's highest homicidal rate. They were, to put it bluntly, the world's deadliest killers. From inside Uganda, the horrified population would have found it hard to dismiss these figures on the Nubians. Nothing quite like this had ever been witnessed in this country. Besides the atrocities of the Amin regime, there were other regular incidents that led many to question Amin's very sanity and state of mind. A 1973 diplomatic cable to the US President Richard Nixon offered Uganda's sympathy since, Amin said, Nixon was embroiled in the crisis of the Watergate break-in affair. Amin challenged his fierce opponent, Tanzania's president Julius Nyerere, to a boxing match in order to help settle the dispute between Uganda and Tanzania where former president Obote was living in exile. If Rwanda continued to interfere with Uganda's internal affairs, Amin declared in 1973 (using his famous pseudo name "a military spokesman"), Uganda would, to use another of his trademark phrases, "teach Rwanda a lesson it would never forget." In an address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York City in 1974, Amin condemned Israel and praised the German dictator Adolf Hitler over his "final solution" to the Jewish problem. Millions of television viewers around the world gasped in disbelief at this remark. At another UN forum, in the 70s, he opted to speak in Luganda, while then Ambassador Kinene translated. "Nze sijja kwogera lulimi lwa banyunyunsi... . ", [I will not address this forum using the mother tongue of imperialists and suckers - English ], Amini commenced his address, as those who understood Luganda gasped in surprise. In sacking his attractive foreign minister, Princess Elizabeth of Toro, Amin "the military spokesman" snidely remarked on Radio Uganda and in a later photo and article in the state-owned Voice of Uganda newspaper that Princess Elizabeth had brought the dismissal upon herself. Even after being warned that he would not be welcome in London in 1977 to join other heads of state of the British Commonwealth and the Commonwealth summit and the silver jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, Amin was unyielding. He kept on warning that he would land in the UK by force. He even went ahead to book a hotel in UK where he would stay. On the day of departure, government officials lined the runway to see him off at Entebbe. His plane took off, but instead flew to Arua. Later he addressed Makerere University students and joked about how the British had panicked and spent millions of pounds because they knew he was a good paratrooper and would land into the UK by force! He apparently was indifferent to diplomatic gaffes and embarrassment, to protocol and propriety. He was unable to feel any sense of how ridiculous a buffoon he came across to millions of international television viewers and newspaper readers. The proud and well-educated Ugandan exile community in Kenya, Europe and America, almost more traumatized by Amin's silly antics than even his brutality, resorted to shame-faced denial: many started to hide their nationality from any who asked. Among the other events of the Amin years that would - separately from his murderous reputation would have made unforgettable world headlines - was: the June-July 1976 hostage crisis at Entebbe International Airport involving 103 passengers on a hijacked Air France Boeing 707 jetliner. Even by the standards of the dramatic history of the State of Israel and the many wars and terrorist incidents it faced since its formation in May 1948, the Entebbe hijack crisis still stands out as one of the highpoints of contemporary Jewish folklore. While there were many regular and routine airline hijacks during the 1970s involving Palestinian guerrillas and leftist European radicals, only history could have conspired to make the Entebbe, the setting of by far the most dramatic and in terms of imagery, darkly rich and enthralling. Entebbe involved everything that world affairs of the 1970s entailed - Jews, Israelis, Palestinians, Arabs, international aviation, terrorism, commandos, Israel's famed Mossad foreign counter-intelligence agency, the dark interior of Africa. And yes, Idi Amin. Without him, political drama in the 1970s would have been without a lead actor. He claimed repeatedly that God alone knew the exact date of his death and as such, he was never afraid. Then, incredibly, Amin went on to live out one of the most heedless presidencies ever witnessed. He treated his personal security as a foregone matter, with little to fear. When Kenya cut off Uganda's fuel supplies in 1976 after Amin abruptly laid claim to a part of eastern Kenya, the Ugandan president took to a bicycle and rode unprotected by bodyguards from State House on top of Nsamizi Hill in Entebbe to the airport, waving to astonished bystanders. Kenya held up Uganda's fuel. But it allowed fuel trucks bound for Rwanda and Burundi to exit through her border. Amin confiscated much of the said fuel and doled it out to his soldiers. A bewildered Maj Gen Juvenal Habyarimana, then president of Rwanda flew into Uganda for talks about the fuel in transit. It's at this point that Amin exhibited his weird sense of humour by riding on a bicycle - to portray to his visitor that news about the said confiscation was false. His riding on a bicycle implied that Uganda was devoid of any fuel stocks; that not even Amin had access to fuel for his limousines. During his rule, he routinely drove himself in an open jeep to state occasions and once at a pass-out ceremony for police cadets in Nsambya in Kampala in 1976, he narrowly escaped assassination when a grenade was hurled at his jeep. Altogether, there were no less than 14 attempts on his life, between 1971 and 1977. These included one in June 1977 when he sat in a limousine, at the back of his own presidential convoy and watched ethnic Bantu army and airforce rebel officers attack one car, in which they mistakenly thought he was. At close-up range, Amin was an enigma. His stare sent ripples of fear through those he met. A soft-spoken, handsome, bulky, six-foot, four-inch giant who was once Uganda's heavyweight boxing champion, Amin usually smiled jovially, played the accordion, swam regularly and played basketball. But there were those moments when that smile, underneath his general's ceremonial hat, turned into a sullen, attentive gaze, a gaze that suggested ruthlessness of a final and boundless sort. That steady, unforgettable gaze - those wide, calm eyes, upturned nose, the frown, the long, deliberate look that many saw and trembled in their tracks. It was a look that no one could quite describe, but when those eyes were set on a person, no one was in doubt that fate had come to the panic-stricken person. Those are some of the uncountable reasons that Idi Amin will remain for decades to come the most recognisable name in East African history. Never before and never since has there been an Amin in any country on any continent. Nevertheless (depending on one's point of view), there had to have been some positive outcomes to the presidency of a man as bizarre as this, however unorthodox and unpredictable his leadership style. To examine these, one has to return in mind to the world stage of the 1970s, when apartheid reigned unabated in South Africa and to a lesser extent in White Rhodesia; and in a still lesser form, the western democracies of the United States, Britain, Australia, France, West Germany, Canada, Switzerland, among others. It was a world in which a Black person was still frowned patronizingly upon, Africa was the world's laughing stock, outspoken Black Americans like the World Heavy-weight boxing champion Muhammad Ali treated with suspicion. Onto this stage strode Amin. Embarrassingly blank and comical in speech, knowing no world hierarchy of power, he spoke about or to an American president or British Prime Minister in the way he would have a Ugandan primary school child. The down trodden Black people of Africa and the Caribbean cheered this unheard-of audacity by a Black man to the powerful White leaders. The angry Arab population, incensed at the West's undisguised pro-Israel policies and indifference to the Palestinian cause, cheered Amin even more fervently. (Amin, born to a Christian family, later converted to Islam.) And even though the 1972 expulsion of the Ugandan Asians started Uganda's sudden economic ruin, nothing was - and still remains - among Amin's many deeds as popular among A SECTION OF the Ugandan population. This action and the summary and humiliating way in which it was done, giving generations of Asians 90 days in which to pack up and leave, pleased sections of our society. For better or worse (and here the picture is mixed and debatable) Uganda's economy subsequently entered the hands of the Black indigenous business community in a way that is still at least two decades from being the Kenya and Tanzania experience. To some Ugandans in the 1990s and 2000s, although president Yoweri Museveni was of course more rational and educated than his predecessor Amin, something in his overly cautious approach and almost submissive method of dealing with the western powers made and makes many people nostalgic for the to-hell-with-them Amin way. Amin was always, visibly, loudly, adamantly sympathetic to the cause of the black African people and his own indigenous Ugandans in a way that makes Museveni seem like a White stooge and bootlicker of the western world's powerful institutions. In the area of sports, not only did Uganda's first and so far only Olympic gold medal (the 1972 Munich Summer Olympic Games 400m hurdles world record of the policeman John Akii-Bua) come under the Amin era; Uganda seemed to reach its sporting zenith during these dark and trying times. Ugandan boxers and track athletes became a regular sight on medal-awarding podiums around the world. Be that as it may, the whole story of Amin will never be completed and for many years to come, his figure will remain an enigma for Ugandans and the rest of the world.
Amin Son Starts Rebel Group - Govt The Monitor (Kampala) July 27, 2003 Frank Nyakairu Brig. Kale Kayihura has said exiled former president Idi Amin's son is training a rebel group to attack Uganda from DR Congo. Kayihura is the UPDF Chief Political Commissar and former commander of the Ugandan troops in eastern DR Congo. "We have information that Taban Amin is recruiting and has set a base near the Uganda border," Kayihura told Sunday Monitor yesterday. He said Taban is working with the Congolese Armed Forces (FAC) and a local rebel group RCD-ML led by Mbusa Nyamwisi. Nyamwisi is now part of Dr Congo President Joseph Kabila's new transitional government. Kayihura said Taban is recruiting in West Nile for his rebel group. He said Taban's rebel group had not acquired a name. "He has been promising money to people in West Nile and we hear he has 400 men so far," Kayihura further added. Taban has been living in Kinshasa for more than five years. A pro-Uganda rebel group in Congo also claims Taban has launched several attacks on their positions. "He is aiding FAC forces, the Lendu Ngiti tribal groups, and Mbusa's men against us," said Bitamara Kisembo, leader of Party for Unity and Safeguard of Integrity of Congo (PUSIC). He said Taban has been helping Dr Congo government forces to fight rebels in the eastern DRC. Kisembo said that Taban was recently promoted to Genrale de Division (Division Commander). He said Taban has set up bases at Getti, Bado and Nyacucu near the Uganda border with 6,000 fighters. But the RCD-ML representative in Kampala Mr Frank Lusambo denied any links with Taban.
Amin Still 'In Coma' The Monitor (Kampala) July 28, 2003 Kennedy Lule & Agencies Former President Idi Amin is still in coma, a Saudi hospital employee has told the Associated Press. The AP reported that Amin's condition was deteriorating contrary to reports that he had come out of coma. "Amin came in with high blood pressure and since then has suffered kidney failure," the employee of the King Faisal Specialist Hospital said on condition of anonymity. Amin, who is believed to be 80, has been on life-support since July 18. He was comatose upon admission. Ms Madina Amin, one of Amin's wives and a daughter, left Kampala last week to join Amin' sons, Mr Hussein Amin and Mr Mwanga Amin, who have been at his bedside in the intensive care unit. The government helped arrange for Madina to fly to Saudi Arabia on humanitarian grounds, according to the Presidency minister, Mr Kirunda Kivejinja. Amin's family has appealed to the government to allow him return and die from home. But President Yoweri Museveni said last week that he would arrest Amin to face charges of human rights abuse. Mr Museveni said that Amin would not be accorded a state funeral, although the family would be free to return the body. Many opinion leaders and MPs from Amin's West Nile region are, however, still demanding that he should be granted amnesty for the sake of peace and reconciliation. Amin, whose eight-year rule was marked by the torture and murder of hundreds of thousands of people, has since 1980 lived in exile in Saudi Arabia. Human rights groups say as many as 500,000 people were killed during his rule. The New York-based Human Rights Watch describes Amin as "one of the bloodiest tyrants in a bloody century" and said it regretted he was dying without meeting justice for his crimes. Amin seized power from Mr Milton Obote on January 25, 1971 and ruled Uganda until April 11, 1979 when a combined force of Ugandan exiles and Tanzanian troops drove him out. Amin went into exile in Libya and then Iraq before settling in Saudi Arabia where he has lived since December 1980. Ugandan embassy officials in Saudi Arabia visited Amin last week
Pardon Amin, Says Nadduli The Monitor (Kampala) July 28, 2003 Kennedy Lule The Luwero district chairman, Hajji Abdul Nadduli, wants Mr Idi Amin to be granted amnesty. Amin's family has asked the government to allow the ailing former President, admitted to a hospital in Saudi Arabia, to return home. But President Yoweri Museveni said last week that he would arrest Amin to face charges of human rights violations. In a phone interview yesterday, Nadduli disagreed with Mr Museveni saying it would be double standards to lock out Amin. "Why did government allow former presidents Tito Okello (RIP), Godfrey Binasia and former Vice-President Mustapha Adrisi to return without conditions?" Nadduli said that Amin did not run government alone and there were accomplices to his alleged crimes. "In government we have [first deputy Prime Minister] Lt. Gen. Moses Ali and others outside government like [former army commander under Amin] Maj. Gen. Francis Nyangweso. Why are they not questioned?" Nadduli said. He wondered why Museveni spared former presidential candidate Col. Kiiza Besigye the court-martial in 2000 after the people of Rukingiri pleaded for their son. "I have many Nubians in Bombo; do you think they are happy when Amin is treated differently?" Nadduli said. Many people, including MPs from West Nile, Amin's home region, have pleaded in his favour ever since the Sunday Monitor broke the story of his failing health on July 20.
Amin is Dying Without Meeting Justice, Say Rightists African Church Information Service Nairobi July 28, 2003 Henry Neondo Human Rights Watch said last Tuesday (July 22) that in future, tyrants like the ailing Idi Amin, would spend their last years in prison, not in comfortable exile. Idi Amin, a former Ugandan dictator whose regime was responsible for widespread murder and torture, and the wholesale exile of the country's Asian community, fell into a coma last week at a hospital in Saudi Arabia. He is 78 years old and has lived in exile, mostly in Saudi Arabia, since 1979. "We regret that Idi Amin is dying without meeting justice for his crimes," said Reed Brody, Director of Special Prosecutions at Human Rights Watch. "Amin was one of the bloodiest tyrants in a bloody century. It is increasingly possible to prosecute dictators outside their home countries. Unfortunately, the trend didn't catch up with Mr Amin in time," added Brody. Human rights watch said that while Amin lived in Saudi Arabia for the last ten years of his life, some former dictators, such as Augusto Pinochet of Chile, and Hissène Habré of Chad, were arrested abroad to face prosecution. Others, such as Milton Obote of Uganda, Mengistu Haile Miriam of Ethiopia, Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier and Raoul Cedras of Haiti, and Alfredo Stroessner of Paraguay, have not been prosecuted. When asked in 1999 about the possibility of Amin's extradition or prosecution, a Saudi Arabian diplomat reiterated that according to Bedouin hospitality, "once someone is welcomed as a guest in your tent, you do not turn him in". But according to Brody, "the world is a smaller and smaller tent. One day, even the Idi Amins of this world will find that they have nowhere to hide." On taking power in 1971, Idi Amin created several new security organisations, which reported directly to him, such as the Public Safety Unit and the State Research Bureau. Along with the Military Police, these security forces killed approximately 10,000 Ugandans. Many prominent Ugandans lost their lives during Amin's regime, including, the then Chief Justice Benedicto Kiwanuka, and Anglican Archbishop, Janani Luwuum. In 1972, Amin ordered the expulsion of Uganda's 70,000 citizens of Asian origin, and the expropriation of their extensive property holdings. Amin's several attempts in the recent past to re-enter Uganda were thwarted by Yoweri Museveni's insistence that his return to Uganda would land him, in prison to account for violations of human rights.
Forgive Amin, Says Cardinal The Monitor (Kampala) July 29, 2003 Sserwaniko John Vivian Former president Idi Amin's ill health is nothing to celebrate, Emmanuel Cardinal Wamala has said. The Catholic prelate instead wants Ugandans to learn to forgive; and finds it hard to comprehend how God-loving people could rejoice at another person's misfortune. The Cardinal's remarks were contained in a speech read for him by Bishop Emeritus Edward Baharagate on Sunday. Baharagate represented the Cardinal at the 10th anniversary celebrations for St. Augustine's College in Wakiso. The bishop said that the government should now not prosecute Amin as it never bothered to extradite him when he was still in good health. Baharagate said that it is not godly to be vengeful and unforgiving to an ailing former president, his alleged crimes notwithstanding. Baharagate also asked how President Museveni could pardon Mr Abdalla Nasur, who was convicted for murder, and refuse to forgive Amin. The former president is admitted at a Saudi hospital in Jeddah. He is suffering from hypertension, overweight and general fatigue. Amin's health has caused hot debates, with some Ugandans urging the government to let him return home unharmed. Mr Museveni has however said that Amin would be arrested and prosecuted for his alleged crimes if he returned to Uganda alive. Museveni also said that Amin would never be accorded a state funeral, although his family may return his body home should the man who promoted himself to field marshal die in exile.
Idi Amin Gets Death Threats The Monitor (Kampala) August 12, 2003 Timothy Kalyegira Hospital source says former leader expected to die in a few days Former President Idi Amin, 78, who is undergoing emergency treatment at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, has received several death threats. South African state radio, in its morning news bulletin yesterday, quoted a source at the hospital as saying that the threats were made anonymously by telephone to the hospital. The hospital authorities quickly posted an armed guard in Amin's room in the intensive care unit of the hospital and security around the hospital compound has been stepped up. Amin and his henchmen have been blamed for the murder of an estimated 500,000 Ugandans during their rule from January 1971 to April 1979. The hospital sources would not confirm whether the anonymous phone calls might have come from Ugandans who bore the brunt of Amin's policies. Reuters news agency on Sunday quoted a source in Jeddah as saying that Amin's condition has deteriorated further "as sepsis has set in, compounding earlier multiple organ system failure. He is still hooked up to a life-support machine... [and] the prognosis is he will die within days rather than weeks." Since The Sunday Monitor broke the story of Amin being in a coma three weeks ago, there has been renewed interest in Amin's legacy and whether he can and should be permitted to return to Uganda in the event of his death or further deterioration in his health. In October 2001, Amin - the father of about 48 - said that he wanted to return to Uganda and re-build his house in Arua that was destroyed during the 1979 war that toppled him. Until now, there have been no reported threats to Amin's life since he was taken ill more than three months ago.