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Last Updated: Monday, 10 October 2005, 21:29 GMT 22:29 UK
Former Ugandan leader Obote dies
Milton Obote
Mr Obote was independent Uganda's first head of state
The former President of Uganda, Milton Obote, has died at the age of 80.

Mr Obote took Uganda to independence from Britain in 1962, but was overthrown nine years later by an army officer, Idi Amin.

He returned to power in 1980, but was again overthrown and fled to Zambia in 1985, where he remained in exile until his death.

Mr Obote died of kidney failure in a hospital in Johannesburg, his family announced to the media.

The BBC's Barnaby Phillips, in Johannesburg, says that when he took power in 1962 as a young, charismatic politician from the north of the country, Mr Obote embodied the hopes of one of Africa's most promising countries.

But our correspondent adds that while Uganda prospered, Mr Obote grew less tolerant of opposition.

'Hero'

In 1971 whilst attending a Commonwealth summit in Singapore, he was overthrown by Amin, whose time in office was marked by the killing of hundreds of thousands of political opponents.

Mr Obote's return to power in 1980 was supported by the Tanzanian government that had forced Amin out. In 1985 he was again ousted by an army officer - this time Tito Okello.

His security forces spent five years fighting a rebel force headed by Yoweri Museveni, who seized power in Kampala in 1986 and has led the country since.

As president, Mr Museveni warned Mr Obote against returning to the country, saying he would face prosecution for the deaths of thousands of people during the early 1980s.

Our correspondent says that Mr Obote lived out his last years in the Zambian capital, Lusaka, a bitter and frustrated man.

But he adds that Mr Obote's supporters, mainly in northern Uganda, never lost faith in their champion, and as news of his death spread, they described him as a democrat and hero of African liberation.


Your comments:

He deserves to be honoured for his role in developing our country
WSO Akwero, Almelo
Dr Milton Obote, Kaunda, Nyerere, Nkrumah, Kenyatta were the founding fathers of African independence. His death is not a loss to Uganda but the entire Africa. Dr Milton Obote is now a part of Uganda's history, during his period he made friends as well as enemies, he had his own shortcomings, but above all he laid foundation for Ugandan politics.

Therefore, he deserves to be honoured for his role in developing our country. Let's talk no evil about his death but try to unite our people in the process of understanding what democracy is all about. May his soul rest in peace.
WSO Akwero, Almelo, The Netherlands

Obote embodied charisma and mature politics which our current leaders don't have. Rest in peace Obote.
Zaphan Nyambaka, Kampala

Every man deserves a second chance on this earth and room to change because no-one is perfect. May the Lord rest his soul in peace and may the people of Uganda who resented him find it in their hearts to forgive him.
Eva, Nairobi, Kenya

I worked under Dr Milton Obote's government as National Youth Chairman until the overthrow in 1985. He is my hero and he inspired me to go to school and university. His legacy will be remembered as a person who built schools, hospitals, good roads and almost the whole Uganda has footprints of Milton.

Even President Museveni was a member of his youth brigade and he was trained to speak English in a good school during Obote's rule. He will be remembered by many Ugandans as an orator. The man can speak for three hours non stop. My God rest his Soul in peace
Dr David Nyekorach-Matsanga, London, England

He is the founding father of the nation. He fought for Independence and got it for his nation. He supported liberation struggles in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya as a true pan-African. He deserves a decent state burial.
Vincent Kitutu, Kasese

It's sad news that the demise of African brutes means they will never answer for crimes committed against humanity during their reign.
Ruth, Luwero

The sad story is that Obote has died without facing a court
Kisuule Magala Katende, Chicago
The sad story is that Obote has died without facing a court or commission. We shall never know the truth about atrocities committed by his men and those of President Yoweri Museveni in the five year war in Uganda that left hundreds of thousands dead.
Kisuule Magala Katende, Chicago, Illinois, USA

Even today Milton Obote embodies the hopes of not only Ugandans but Africans at large as they struggle against the greedy and grand corruption of the continent's current ruling thieves. Until the African youth rises as one to overthrow the current ruling thieves and replace the current thefts with the passion and dedication to Africa which Obote and his colleagues exhibited in fighting colonialists, the continent will continue rotting despite the useless MDGs. May Comrade Obote rest in peace
Lloyd Himaambo, Lusaka, Zambia

Between 1968-1972, I was a young academic (a CUSO volunteer - much like UK's VSO) at the University of East Africa's Nairobi campus. My recollection of Milton Obote was that of a rather brutal dictator - though somewhat "milder" than Idi Amin. My laboratory technician - Gregory Bizoza - was a Ugandan. He told me Milton Obote's government made him flee to Kenya as a refugee.

When Idi Amin took over, Gregory announced that he could now go home. I asked him to write, but I never heard from him again! Although I never witnessed government brutality in Uganda, I certainly heard enough about it. Personally, I know that my trips to Uganda were marked by frequent requests for bribes - a practice as yet unknown in Kenya.
Peter Bursztyn, Barrie, Ontario, Canada

That Obote served Uganda with his heart and soul can only be denied by people who want to rewrite Uganda's history through blurred personal lenses. No Ugandan leader gave the country the dignity Obote did, hence his place in Ugandan political history. He died the Father of the nation.
Ogwal-Otim, Kampala, Uganda




SEE ALSO
Dictator Idi Amin dies
16 Aug 03 |  Africa
Country profile: Uganda
08 Oct 05 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Uganda
08 Oct 05 |  Country profiles

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