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Idi Amin

Amin, Idi (ēˈdē amēnˈ) [key], c.1925–2003, Ugandan army officer and dictator. From the small Kakwa ethnic group, he advanced in the Ugandan armed forces from private (1946) to major general (1968). In 1971 he seized control of the government, toppling the regime of Milton Obote. In power, Amin exhibited an unpredictable personality, often capricious and cruel yet displaying a modicum of shrewdness and cunning. His relatively brief regime was nonetheless vicious and corrupt; he brutally suppressed other ethnic groups and political enemies, killed what is believed to be nearly 300,000 (most innocent of any wrongdoing), tortured uncounted thousands more, and looted the nation's treasury. In 1972 he ordered the expulsion of Ugandans of Asian extraction, thrusting the nation into economic chaos. Tanzanian troops joined exiled Ugandan nationalists to invade Uganda in 1978, and Amin was driven into exile in Saudi Arabia the following year.

See J. T. Strate, Post-Military Coup Strategy in Uganda: Amin's Early Attempts to Consolidate Political Support in Africa (1973), H. Kyemba, A State of Blood (1977), D. Barnett and R. Wooding, Uganda Holocaust (1980), and P. A. Allen, Interesting Times: Life in Uganda under Idi Amin (2000); B. Schroeder, dir., General Idi Amin Dada (documentary film, 1976; video, 2002).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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