News & Comment

12 October 2005

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Powerful personality who as PM twice failed Uganda

Powerful Personality who as PM twice failed Uganda

By Michael Holman

Apollo Milton Obote, first prime minister of an independent Uganda, had a unique claim to fame. Alone among African leaders, he won back at the ballot box in 1980 the office he had lost in a coup nine years earlier to Idi Amin. Unfortunately for Uganda, both his sessions in office proved disastrous, and the country is still recovering from his malign legacy.

His first term in office had been marked by a determination to pursue his socialist agenda, coupled with an increasingly autocratic approach. During his exile in Dar es Salaam, Obote radiated frustration at his cirumstances, made tolerable by his intense conviction that a second chance was yet to come. Once back in office, Obote's first moves were to reverse the economic policies he had introduced nearly a decade earlier, and he pursued IMF and World Bank reforms with vigour.

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