16. The Terrible Ugandan Ruler
Terrible Ugandan dictator Idi Amin Dada (circa 1925 – 2003) began his career as a military officer. He was commander of the Ugandan Army when he got wind that he was about to be arrested for theft, so he decided to overthrew the government. He seized power in a 1971 coup, declared himself president, and ruled Uganda as dictator until 1979. His regime was known for repression, ethnic persecutions, human rights abuses, economic mismanagement, corruption, and nepotism. However, Amin set himself apart from other brutal and incompetent kleptocrats with his sheer bizarreness.
Amin’s behavior as ruler was odd from the start, and grew increasingly more erratic with time. He started off as a conservative, and was initially supported by the West and Israel. Then he switched, and became an ardent supporter of the PLO and of Libya’s anti-Western dictator, Muammar Qaddafi. He also expelled Uganda’s ethnically Asian population, and seized their and Europeans’ businesses and enterprises, which formed the economy’s backbone. Amin handed them to relatives and supporters, who promptly drove them into the ground.