Obote, Milton

Obote, Milton
▪ 2006
 Ugandan politician (b. Dec. 28, 1924, Akoroko, Uganda British Protectorate—d. Oct. 10, 2005, Johannesburg, S.Af.), served as prime minister (1962–66) and president (1966–71, 1980–85) of Uganda, but both of his terms in the latter post were marked by repressive rule and factionalism and were ended by military coups. After being expelled (1949) from Makerere University for his pro-independence political activities, Obote worked in Kenya before returning to Uganda in 1957. He was elected to the colonial legislative council in 1958, and two years later he formed the Uganda People's Congress. In 1962 he skillfully negotiated an alliance with King Mutesa II of Buganda (the most powerful of Uganda's five tribal kingdoms), in which Obote became the newly independent country's first prime minister. Tensions increased between the two men, however, and in 1966 Mutesa fled the country. Obote then appointed himself executive president with near-absolute powers and abolished all of the kingdoms. He attempted to implement a socialist program while ruthlessly suppressing the opposition. After being ousted in 1971 by Idi Amin, Obote settled in Tanzania, where he agitated for Amin's overthrow. Tanzanian-led forces deposed Amin in 1979, and Obote regained the presidency in disputed elections. His second term was marred by a deadly guerrilla war and charges of human rights violations. Deposed again in 1985, Obote went into permanent exile.

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▪ president of Uganda
in full  Apollo Milton Obote  
born December 28, 1924, Akoroko village, Lango, Uganda
died October 10, 2005, Johannesburg, South Africa
 politician who was prime minister (1962–70) and twice president (1966–71, 1980–85) of Uganda. He led his country to independence in 1962, but his two terms in office (both of which were ended by military coups) were consumed by struggles between Uganda's northern and southern ethnic groups.

      Obote was born the third of nine children in a farming family in north-central Uganda. He first attended Busoga College in Mwiri and then Makerere College in Kampala from 1948 to 1949, but he was expelled from the latter for his political activities before he could graduate. The British colonial government prevented him from accepting scholarships to study in the United States and West Germany, and in 1950 Obote went to Kenya. There, while working as a labourer, clerk, and salesman, he became involved in the independence movement and joined the Kenya African Union.

      Obote returned to Uganda in 1957 and became a member of the Uganda National Congress Party. In 1958 he was elected to represent his home district in the Legislative Council, where, despite the fact that he was one of a small number of African delegates, he did not hesitate to criticize the British government. When the National Congress Party split, he formed the Uganda People's Congress (UPC), which drew its support mainly from the northern Acholi and Lango peoples. The UPC's main political focus was opposition to the powerful southern kingdom of Buganda under King Mutesa II. Having become prime minister in 1962, Obote accepted a constitution that granted federal status within Uganda to five traditional kingdoms, including Buganda. He was thus able to form a governing coalition made up of his UPC and Buganda's Kabaka Yekka (“King Alone”) Party. In 1963 Mutesa was elected to the (largely ceremonial) post of president with Obote's encouragement.

      In 1966, however, the conflict between Obote and Buganda reached a head. Obote sent troops led by Idi Amin (Amin, Idi), an officer from a northern district, to attack Mutesa's palace, and Mutesa fled to Great Britain. In an effort to solidify his rule, Obote introduced a new constitution that abolished all the kingdoms and other remnants of federalism in the country. The new constitution also established an executive presidency, which Obote assumed while continuing to serve as prime minister. But Obote's increasing reliance on the military and police to terrorize his political opponents aroused the resentment of southern Ugandans, and it allowed Amin to build a following based on recruits from among his own Kakwa people. Early in 1971 Obote was overthrown in a coup led by Amin.

      Obote settled in neighbouring Tanzania, where he maintained a small émigré army under the generalship of Tito Okello, an Acholi. This army aided Tanzanian forces in deposing Amin in 1979, and Okello was able to secure Obote's election to the presidency after Obote's return from exile in May 1980. As president, Obote solicited foreign aid in an attempt to raise Uganda's economy from the ruin of the Amin years, but he did nothing to prevent Acholi and Lango soldiers from conducting a campaign of murder and pillage in the south and in Amin's home district. In 1985 Obote was forced out of office by Okello. He eventually settled in Zambia but continued to play an active role in the UPC until his death in 2005.

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Universalium. 2010.

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