President of Uganda Idi Amin Dada arrives at Rabat, Morocco for the African Summit conference, June 12, 1972. - Copyright © africanews Jean-Jacques Levy/AP

Legacy of late Idi Amin Dada divides Ugandans

By Rédaction Africanews and AP

UGANDA – Can former president Idi Amin Dada be a subject of intellectual or academic study?

This question has divided Ugandans for some weeks after president Yoweri Museveni argued his predecessor should be forgotten.

An Amin memorial lecture, the first of its kind, failed to happen as planned in September, because it didn’t receive approval from the education ministry.

Amin, who took power by force in Uganda in 1971 and ruled until he was removed by armed groups of exiles in 1979, died in Saudi Arabia in 2003. His passing was barely acknowledged in Uganda, and some of Amin’s supporters over the years have unsuccessfully lobbied for his remains to be returned home.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, whose rebel group was among those that ousted Amin with the help of Tanzanian troops, regularly dismisses Amin. There are no monuments to Amin in Kampala, the capital, where not even a street is named after him.

But some Ugandans want to change that — not to emphasize Amin’s tyrannical rule but to highlight any positive aspects of it, including what they say was his commitment to local industry as well as African solidarity. They have incited fierce debate over Amin’s legacy at a time when many Ugandans are hungry for political change after nearly four decades of Museveni’s presidency. Museveni has been in power since 1986.

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