Lanekatuk Memorial, Inc.
Apollo Milton Opeto Obote (December 28, 1925 - October 10, 2005), Prime Minister of Uganda from
1962 to 1966 and President from 1966 to 1971 and from 1980 to 1985, was a Ugandan political leader who
led Uganda to independence from the British colonial administration in 1962. As a student he was expelled
from Makerere University, of which he was later Chancellor, for taking part in a strike. Moving to Kenya,
he became involved in the Kenyan independence struggle, which prepared him to return to Uganda to start
a branch of the Ugandan National Congress and assume a prominent role in the independence movement.
Unlike in Kenya, this was a peaceful struggle.
After engineering a strategic alliance with Mutesa II of Buganda's royalist party, he entered the Legislative
Council in 1957. Following independence, the alliance won the 1962 election. He became Prime Minister
while Mutesa was appointed President. In 1966, he removed Mutesa from the Presidency, and, having
appointed Idi Amin as army chief, suspended the constitution. Pursuing broadly socialist policies, which
made him unpopular among European leaders, he moved towards a one-party, centralized state. He
abolished provincial government and also the traditional kingdoms, including that of his former ally. His
personal lifestyle and lack of real progress under his rule alienated many Ugandans.
While attending a meeting of the British Commonwealth in 1971, he was overthrown by Idi Amin, whose
oppressive rule ended in 1980. Obote spent the intervening years in Tanzania as the guest of his friend,
Julius Nyerere. Following Amin's fall, he again stood for the Presidency and won. The fact that Nyerere
had troops stationed in Uganda may have contributed to a his electoral success. Allegations of voting fraud
were rampant. His second rule was marred by repression, which reached greater heights than it had during
his first term. Many civilians died as a result of the Ugandan Bush War. He did negotiate help from the
World Bank and the International Monetary Fund but his attempts to crush the opposition coalition, the
Ugandan Popular Front, ended in a guerrilla war between government forces and the National Resistance
Army. In 1985, as a presidential election approached, he was toppled in a coup. He went into exile, living in
Zambia and South Africa. Partly due to weak democratic foundations, a legacy of colonialism and party
due to lack of a tradition of service in the public interest, Obote was a victim of personal ambition. He
deluded himself that he was always right and that what was good for him was automatically good for
Milton Obote. (2008, December 30). New World Encyclopedia. Retrieved 23:39, March 24, 2010 from