ON THIS DAY    16 August      Graphics version >>   BBC News >>
Search ON THIS DAY by date   
  Go back one day Go forward one day

Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
2003: 'War criminal' Idi Amin dies

AUDIO : A survivor remembers life inside Amin's prison

The notorious former Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin, has died in exile in Saudi Arabia.

He had been in a coma at King Faisal Specialist Hospital in the city of Jeddah since 18 July. A hospital spokesman said he died of multiple organ failure.

There is some dispute over his actual age, but most sources say he was 80 years old.

Idi Amin presided over one of the bloodiest dictatorships in African history.

He ruled Uganda from 1971 until 1979, when he was forced from power by Tanzanian troops and Ugandan exiles.

Up to 400,000 people are believed to have been killed under his rule. Many more were imprisoned and tortured.

Military coup

The son of a self-proclaimed sorceress, Amin was a heavyweight boxing champion and served as an officer in the British colonial army.

He became head of the army and navy under President Milton Obote in 1966.

But five years later, he seized power in a bloody coup while Mr Obote was abroad and declared himself president for life.

In the eight years of his rule, he became known for his bizarre and brutal behaviour.

He styled himself the "Conquerer of the British Empire", using the letters CBE after his name, and awarded himself the Victoria Cross and the Military Cross.

He also took five wives, fathered dozens of children, and insisted on being called "Big Daddy".

Cannibalism

He murdered hundreds of thousands of real and perceived opponents during his rule.

Persistent reports say he threw corpses to crocodiles and held "talks" with the decapitated heads of his victims kept in a freezer for the purpose. He is also accused of cannibalism.

Human rights groups and the Ugandan government have expressed disappointment that he never faced trial for his alleged crimes.

In 1972, Idi Amin expelled the entire Asian population of Uganda, blaming them for controlling the economy for their own ends. Most re-settled successfully in Britain.

Under Amin's rule, Uganda plunged into economic chaos as a result of the expulsions, gross mismanagement and rampant corruption.

Amin also repeatedly sent troops to invade neighbouring Tanzania, and in 1979 Tanzanian troops and Ugandan exiles counter-attacked, sending Amin into exile.

He was replaced in Uganda by the man he deposed - Milton Obote.

Amin fled to Libya, then Iraq, before finally settling in Saudi Arabia. He never returned to Uganda again.

In Context
Idi Amin was buried in Saudi Arabia, against the wishes of his family who wanted his body returned to Uganda.

Uganda's leadership went through an unstable period over the next few years.

Two presidents, including Milton Obote, were ousted by army coups.

However, a period of relative stability began when Yoweri Museveni became president in 1986.

He has overseen a period of dramatic improvement in Uganda's economy but has attracted criticism for not allowing multiparty politics.

President Museveni has also been unable to end two rebel insurgencies in the north and west of the country which have led to the death and displacement of tens of thousands of people.


Search ON THIS DAY by date   
  Go back one day Go forward one day

Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
^^ Back to top |