Obote, Milton

1924–2005
President of Uganda

Milton Obote sought to end British colonial rule in East Africa and twice served as president of UGANDA. Expelled from Makerere University in Uganda for political activity, he moved to KENYA where he joined a number of African political groups. When he returned to Uganda several years later, he was elected to the newly formed Legislative Council. In that position he frequently criticized British colonial policy.

In 1959 Obote formed his own political party, the Uganda People’s Congress. Three years later he was elected prime minister of the colony. When Uganda won its independence later that year, Obote continued as prime minister with King MUTESA II of Buganda as the country’s president. In 1966 Obote seized control of Uganda and forced Mutesa into exile. Obote suspended the constitution, declared himself executive president, and nationalized many foreign businesses. During this time, he worked closely with army officer Idi AMIN DADA, who helped him to expand the government’s power. Within a few years, however, Obote began to distrust Amin and placed him under house arrest.

Obote, Milton

In 1971 Amin led a military coup that overthrew Obote. Amin took over the presidency and established a ruthless regime, killing his enemies and opponents in the government. Seven years later forces from TANZANIA defeated the Ugandan army, toppling Amin’s government. Obote, who was living in Tanzania, returned to Uganda and was elected president the following year.

Obote had no more success in his second term as president. After Amin’s terror-filled reign, Uganda’s economy was in ruins and law and order had broken down. Obote faced a restless population, a disgruntled army, and a rebellion led by his 1980 political opponent Yoweri MUSEVENI. In 1985 another military coup toppled Obote, who fled to ZAMBIA. (See also Colonialism in Africa.)