Monday, October 10, 2005

Death of Milton Obote.

Former Ugandan leader Obote dies.

Mr Obote was independent Uganda's first head of state .The former President of Uganda, Milton Obote, has died at the age of 80. Mr Obote took Uganda to independence from Britain in 1962, but was overthrown nine years later by an army officer, Idi Amin. He returned to power in 1980, but was again overthrown and fled to Zambia in 1985, where he remained in exile until his death.

Mr Obote died of kidney failure in a hospital in Johannesburg, his family announced to the media. The BBC's Barnaby Phillips, in Johannesburg, says that when he took power in 1962 as a young, charismatic politician from the north of the country, Mr Obote embodied the hopes of one of Africa's most promising countries. But our correspondent adds that while Uganda prospered, Mr Obote grew less tolerant of opposition.

In 1971 whilst attending a Commonwealth summit in Singapore, he was overthrown by Amin, whose time in office was marked by the killing of hundreds of thousands of political opponents. Mr Obote's return to power in 1980 was supported by the Tanzanian government that had forced Amin out. His security forces spent five years fighting a rebel force headed by Yoweri Museveni, who seized power in Kampala in 1986 and has led the country since.

As president, Mr Museveni warned Mr Obote against returning to the country, saying he would face prosecution for the deaths of thousands of people during the early 1980s. Our correspondent says that Mr Obote lived out his last years in the Zambian capital, Lusaka, a bitter and frustrated man. But he adds that Mr Obote's supporters, mainly in northern Uganda, never lost faith in their champion, and as news of his death spread, they described him as a democrat and hero of African liberation.


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