Idi Amin ill, falls into coma

Posted by Guardian on 2003/07/21 | Views: 700 |

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Idi Amin ill, falls into coma

AILING former Uganda military ruler, Field Marshal Idi Amin, fell into coma at the weekend, according to agency reports.

AILING former Uganda military ruler, Field Marshal Idi Amin, fell into coma at the weekend, according to agency reports.

The man, whose government from 1971 to 1979, was one of the bloodiest in African history, wishes to be buried in his homeland.

"They have told me he is in coma and on a life support machine. We are still waiting for more information from there," one of his wives, Madina Amin, told the Agence France Presse (AFP).

Amin, who converted to Islam, has lived in Saudi Arabia with his entourage for more than 10 years, after almost a decade in Libya.

He has not been back to Uganda since he was ousted by Tanzanian troops and Ugandan exiles in 1979.

"We have contacted the (Kampala) government, to ask that if he dies his body can be brought back home for a decent burial," said Mrs. Amin.

Her husband had suffered from hypertension for some time and fell into the coma on Friday, she added.

Up to 400,000 people are estimated to have died during his time in office or are still unaccounted for.

Under Amin, Asians in Uganda who dominated business in the country were given 90 days to leave the country, as he embarked on a programme to Africanise the economy.

Many fled to the United Kingdom. He confiscated their property, which he distributed to his cronies, who later ran them down.

A whole generation of Ugandan intellectuals were either killed for questioning the regime or fled into exile.

Uganda's Sunday Vision newspaper scored a scoop in 1999 when it secured the first interview with the so-called "Butcher of Africa" in almost 20 years.

"I am living a quiet life and committed to my religion, Islam, and Allah. I don't have problems with anyone," Amin told the newspaper's reporter in his luxury home in Jeddah.

"But I am satisfied with what I am getting and even paying school fees for a number of my orphaned relatives in Uganda, and helping needy people," he said.

He is said to have fathered 43 children in all.

His son, Haji Ali Amin, ran unsuccessfully last year for election as mayor in Njeru, east of the Ugandan capital, Kampala.

"The people don't have any problem with my father," he said, blaming the media for giving him a bad press.

Amin was widely seen abroad as a figure of fun. He declared himself Field Marshal, King of Scotland and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa and offered to visit Northern Ireland as a peace mediator.

His downfall came in 1979 after a series of skirmishes between Uganda and his old enemy, Tanzania, which supported an invasion by army exiles.

As his capital fell, he slipped through the net, finally turning up in Libya, his years in power over.

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