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Friday, 12 April, 2002, 17:05 GMT 18:05 UK
Ugandan media ponder Idi Amin
Africa Media Watch
On the 23rd anniversary of the overthrow of Idi Amin, Ugandan media reflect on the lessons learnt from his destructive nine-year rule. They also praise the late Tanzanian leader, Julius Nyerere, whose troops ousted the infamous dictator.

As it ponders the lessons learnt from the Amin regime, The Monitor newspaper points out that Uganda is still embroiled in wars.

Idi Amin Dada
Ousted dictator Idi Amin Dada now lives in exile in Saudi Arabia

"Why should a country that went through a costly liberation war in 1979, and a five-year destructive guerrilla war, remain a hostage to wars?

"If the costly liberation war in 1979 gave birth to other wars and political turmoil, should Uganda be sending troops to install regimes in neighbouring countries like it did in Rwanda, and for the second time now in the Democratic Republic of Congo?" the paper asks.

Hostile relations

The pro-government New Vision newspaper feels it is Idi Amin who is responsible for the current instability in the Great Lakes region.

"His hostility to Tanzania precipitated two wars and numerous border incidents. His uninspired policies brought about the closure of the Kenyan border, leading to suffering on both sides.... It is therefore timely that we should use this anniversary to reflect upon the region's ills and plot a way forward for the dreams of prosperity and oneness," the paper says.

"And while commemorating this history, it is just as well that we reflect upon the lessons it has taught us," New Vision adds.

His predecessor, a man with decent education, ... went out of his way to prop up Amin, an accomplished illiterate.

New Vision
And as it reflects, The Monitor observes that liberation wars are supposed to free countries of misrule... "but this was never the case from day one" for Uganda.

Since Amin's overthrow, six presidents have ruled Uganda, two of whom "were ousted from power by the gun", the paper recalls.

"Murderous dictator"

In another article, the New Vision suggests that the rise of "the murderous dictator" was inevitable because of the myopic leadership of his predecessor, Milton Obote.

"Obote, a man with decent education, should have known better the value of educated people in the running of the state"... but instead, "went out of his way to prop up Amin, an accomplished illiterate," it says.

The Monitor recalls that after seizing power in a bloody coup in 1971, "clever Amin deliberately engineered support by riding crest high on the anti-dictatorship feelings of the time, which led many to view him as a "messiah".

"To provide a material base for his supporters, the decisive Amin launched the "Economic War" in 1972, which saw the expulsion of most of Uganda's South Asian population whose property was thereafter expropriated," it recalls.

April 11 should be used as a moment of reflection beyond inspecting parades and making speeches.

The Monitor

And the New Vision adds that Amin's "ascendancy from a seemingly harmless, gentle giant to become a rumoured cannibal at State House is the most glaring evidence that President Yoweri Museveni is the next best thing that happened to the country since independence," the pro-government paper says.

Contrasting legacies

Radio Uganda saves its eulogy for the "ingenious Tanzanian leader whose greatest achievement was to take on Idi Amin".

Ex Tanzanian president, Julius Nyerere
Nyerere's troops ousted Idi Amin in 1979

It goes on to list his other noteworthy qualities, often considered unique among African leaders. As an example of his modest, incorrupt lifestyle, the radio says:

"Rather than spend the Tanzanian tax-payers' hard earned money on elaborate clothing, he went for simple attire, thus creating the collarless trademark Nyerere suit."

It highlights the contrast between the legacies of the two former leaders, and welcomes the peace symposium honouring Julius Nyerere, alongside the ceremony marking the fall of Idi Amin.

And according to The Monitor, "April 11 should be used as a moment of reflection beyond inspecting parades and making speeches".

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

11 Apr 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: Uganda
11 Apr 02 | Country profiles
Timeline: Uganda
11 Apr 02 | Africa
Uganda remembers Idi Amin's fall
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