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Tuesday, 28 March, 2000, 08:58 GMT
Uday: Feared son turns politician
Saddam Hussein with eldest son Uday
Uday (right) has long been groomed for power
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's eldest son, Uday, has met with success in his first foray into politics, receiving 99.99% backing in parliamentary elections in his Baghdad constituency.

Uday's candidacy is seen as a move to take on a more prominent public profile but until now he has been best known for his playboy image, unrivalled trading and media empire and fearsome reputation for brutality.

The 35-year-old has accumulated a host of roles, most notably ownership of the leading Iraqi daily newspaper Babel, and chairmanship of the country's Olympic Committee, football association and journalists' union.

Uday Hussein
Uday used to be seen as a playboy
He also heads TV and radio stations, is chairman of the board of seven weekly newspapers and owns a night-club.

Uday's personal income is estimated to be hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

Iraqi opposition groups allege that his ventures include oil smuggling on a massive scale.

For many years, Uday acted as the de facto prime minister of Iraq. He was his father's favourite son and considered his heir.

But five years ago, he was sidelined after provoking a bloody family rift that led to the defection of Saddam's two sons-in-law to Jordan.

Assassination attempt

He partially redeemed himself when he lured the defectors back to Baghdad and personally took part in their execution.

A year later, would-be assassins sprayed Uday's white Mercedes with bullets while he was on his way to a party in Mansur, a fashionable district of Baghdad.

The injuries to his legs and spine appeared to leave him partially paralysed.

It is believed the attack was carried out by ordinary Iraqis seeking revenge for Uday's legendary depredations, in particular his notorious pursuit of women.

Later, a member of the group which said it had carried out the attack told a British newspaper that, although they had failed to kill Uday, they believed they had eliminated him as a political leader.

'Violent rages'

In the aftermath of that assassination attempt, Iraqi opposition groups said Uday's younger brother, Qusay was given increasing power.

He took charge of the Fedayeen unit (Arabic for fighters who will sacrifice themselves), which was founded by the older son.

This was interpreted as a sign that Uday had become too frail to be considered the heir apparent any longer.

After his discharge from hospital in June 1997, there were reports that he was suffering severe depression and was subject to violent rages.

A month after his release, he shot dead a young bodyguard, and a week later was reported to have killed a woman he had brought to the presidential palace to seduce.

Uday acquired a fearsome reputation as a young man.

Football allegations

As a 15-year-old, he was rumoured to have taken part in a massacre of cabinet ministers that consolidated his father's grip on power.

Other stories have been told of his fleet of sports cars and of the women he abducted at gunpoint.

In 1988, he is alleged to have beaten to death one of Saddam's aides, accusing him of playing the intermediary between a woman and his father.

He was sent into exile in Geneva, but returned to take direct charge of the Iraqi football team's attempt to qualify for the 1994 World Cup in the United States.

But there were reports that Uday had football players humiliated, beaten and tortured for playing badly or after losing critical matches.

Fifa, international football's governing body, launched an investigation, and said later it had found no evidence of torture.

But last year, one of the country's star players, Sharar Haydar Mohaad al Hadithi, told the Sunday Times newspaper that he had undergone torture ordered by Uday.

Nowadays, Uday is more "reflective and mature", according to his aides.

Footage has repeatedly been shown on Iraqi television of him receiving foreign dignitaries and awarding medals to the fedayeen, the paramilitary group he has taken charge of again.

And two years ago, he published his 300-page political science doctorate as a supplement inside Babel. It dealt with the effect of post-Cold War conditions on America's superpower status,.

Public proof of Uday's physical rehabilitation came last December when Iraqi television showed him swimming in the Tigris river.

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20 Oct 98 | Middle East
Uday Hussein: Playboy turned academic
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