April 11th 1979: Idi Amin deposed

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Idi Amin (1925 – 2003)

 

On this day in 1979 the Ugandan dictator since 1971, Idi Amin, was deposed after shrinking popularity. A Major General in the post-colonial Ugandan army, Amin had seized power in a military coup in 1971, overthrowing socialist Milton Obote. His regime was characterised by use of military force, human rights abuses and political repression against dissidents, especially violence against ethnic groups (predominantly Acholi and Lango peoples). Between 100,000 and 500,000 were killed by his eight year regime. Amin’s behaviour became more erratic, and he gave himself numerous titles until his full title was “His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular” and claimed to be the uncrowned King of Scotland. By 1978 Amin’s support had dwindled and dissent was on the rise as the economy failed. He invaded Tanzanian territory which caused a war in which his army was defeated and the capital of Kampala captured. Amin was forced to flee into exile by helicopter on April 11th 1979. Idi Amin fled first to Libya then to Saudi Arabia where he died in 2003; he never expressed remorse for the crimes of his regime.

 

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Time magazine covers Amin

 

Amin was famously portrayed by Forest Whitaker in the 2006 film ‘The Last King of Scotland’. Amin has almost become the archetype of the mad dictator trope, mostly due to the titles he bestowed upon himself and his claim to the Scottish throne. Despite only being in power for eight years, Amin’s rule had a devastating impact on Uganda, with hundreds of thousands dying under the regime.