October 18, 2005
Milton Obote, prime minister, president of Uganda, Oct. 10
Milton Obote, Uganda's first prime minister after independence, who led regimes known for corruption and brutality, died Monday, Oct. 10, 2005, in South Africa. He was 80. Obote, who was overthrown by the equally repressive Idi Amin and eventually returned to power after Amin in turn was ousted, had been living in exile in Zambia. Obote was elected prime minister in 1961 and presided over the British withdrawal in October 1962. He staged a coup in 1966 against the rule of King Mutesa II, suspended the constitution and declared himself president. Anger over Obote's decision to disband Uganda's four traditional monarchies and to institute a socialist system caused his popularity to plummet. He relied on arbitrary detentions and extrajudicial executions to maintain power. While Obote was at a summit in Singapore in 1971, his once-trusted aide, Amin, seized control of the country. Obote sought refuge in Tanzania, where he was protected by then-President Julius Nyerere, whose soldiers helped Ugandan rebels overthrow Amin in April 1979. Obote returned to power the following year, but his rule was marked by repression. Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni, raised an army and fought a civil war against Obote from 1980 to 1985. Obote was ousted for a second time in a 1985 coup, and Museveni took control.