Milton Obote served as the second and fourth1 President of Uganda. Military might displaced his predecessor and enabled his entrance into the office both times. The military might of his successor forced his exit from the office, both times. Such were the times in Uganda following independence.
Obote’s 1st Presidency …
Obote had been active in Ugandan politics since his youth. He vigorously advocated for Ugandan independence. Prior to independence, he formed the UPC, Uganda People’s Congress, whose power base was in the North, and generally opposed the power based in the South and centered in the kingdom of Buganda under King Mutessa II. Upon independence in 1962, King Mutessa II became president and Obote became Prime Minister with a constitution that established a federation of 5 traditional kingdoms. By 1966, disputes between the President and Prime Minister were such that Obote sent a general selected from the loyal northern district, Idi Amin, to overthrow Mutessa. And thus Obote became the 2nd President of Uganda.
During Obote’s presidency, the independence constitution of federalism was abolished and a new constitution establishing a stronger executive was enacted. Obote moved the nation towards socialism. Corruption in government became widespread. Obote’s reliance upon the military alarmed Ugandans and his reliance upon the North cultivated resentments in the South.
During this time Idi Amin developed a following, and, in 1971, forced Obote to flee into exile in Tanzania and Amin became the 3rd president of Uganda.
Obote’s 2nd Presidency …
Exiled in Tanzania, Obote maintained a small army. This army assisted Tanzania’s forces in a war against Idi Amin, and Amin was overthrown in 1979. A series of three interim presidencies held power until the election of 1980 in which Obote was, once again, installed as President of Uganda.
Obote instigated a military venture known as Operation Bonanza. This operation displace myriads of Ugandans and was the occasion of the death of many more.
In 1985, Obote, again, was forced out of power.
Obote’s Legacy …
It has been said that he is responsible for the death of three hundred thousand Ugandans.
- technically the 2nd and the 7th, as, following Amin, 3 interim presidencies served a combined total of 405 days . List of Heads of State of Uganda.