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Full name Idi Amin Dada Oumee. AKA 'Big Daddy', AKA 'Butcher of Africa', AKA 'Conqueror of the British Empire', AKA 'Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea'.
Kill tally: 100,000-500,000 (most sources say 300,000).
Background: The British Government declares Uganda its protectorate in 1894. Surrounding kingdoms are incorporated, with the borders becoming fixed in 1914. Independence is achieved peacefully on 9 October 1962 but rising tensions between the country's different ethnic groups see Prime Minister Milton Obote impose a new republican constitution establishing himself as president and abolishing all the country's kingdoms. Ethnic tensions continue to rise. Idi Amin seizes power in a coup in January 1971.
Mini biography: Born between 1923 and 1925 into the Kakwa tribe in Koboko, near Arua in the northwest corner of Uganda, close to the borders with the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sudan. His father is a farmer and a follower of Islam. His mother is a member of the Lugbara tribe and is said to practice sorcery.
(Amin's younger brother, Amule, claims that Amin was in fact born in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, and that their father was working as a policeman there at the time.)
Amin's parents separate soon after his birth. Amin is raised by his mother, who becomes a camp follower of the King's African Rifles, a regiment of the British colonial army. She will have more children from other relationships, with Amin becoming the third of eight siblings.
Amin receives only a rudimentary education but excels at sports and reportedly converts to Islam at an early age.
1946 - He joins the King's African Rifles as an assistant cook. In 1948 he is promoted to corporal. By 1958 he is sergeant-major and platoon commander.
1951 - Amin becomes the heavyweight boxing champion of Uganda, holding the title until 1960.
1952 - He serves in the British action against the Mau Mau revolt in Kenya (1952-56) and is described by officials as "a splendid type and a good (rugby) player, but virtually bone from the neck up, and needs things explained in words of one letter."
One former commander remembers Amin "as a splendid and reliable soldier and a cheerful and energetic man." Another former commander describes Amin as "an incredible person who certainly isn't mad - very shrewd, very cunning and a born leader."
1959 - He is made a warrant officer with the rank of 'effendi', a position specially created by the colonial army for noncommissioned Africans with leadership potential.
1961 - He rises to the rank of lieutenant, becoming one of only two native Ugandans to be commissioned during British rule.
1962 - Troops under Amin's command commit the 'Turkana Massacre' while conducting an operation to suppress cattle stealing by tribesmen spilling into the north of Uganda from the neighbouring Turkana region of Kenya. Investigations by the British authorities in Kenya reveal that the victims of the massacre had been tortured, beaten to death and, in some cases, buried alive. However, with Uganda's independence only months away, the authorities decide against court-martialling Amin for his "overzealous" methods.
Uganda achieves independence from Britain on 9 October. The king of the Baganda tribe, Sir Edward Mutesa, becomes the new nation's first president. The government is led by Prime Minister Milton Obote, who Amin supports.
Overlooking the charges of torture, Obote promotes Amin to major in 1963 and to colonel and deputy commander of the army and air force in 1964, the same year that Amin helps put down an army mutiny at Jinja, Uganda's second city.
Shortly after independence Amin is sent to Israel on a paratrooper training course. He will become a favourite of the Israelis when he acts as a conduit for the supply of arms and ammunition to Israeli-backed rebels fighting a war in southern Sudan.
1966 - Following a financial scandal implicating Obote and Amin in gold smuggling, and on the back of growing opposition from King Mutesa, Obote suspends the constitution, arrests half his cabinet, and installs himself as president for life. King Mutesa is driven from his palace in a military operation led by Amin and forced into exile. A new constitution abolishes all the country's kingdoms.
Amin is subsequently promoted to major-general and appointed chief of the army and air force. He begins to build a support base in the army by recruiting from his own Kakwa tribe. However, his relations with Obote start to sour.1969 - In December an unsuccessful attempt is made to assassinate Obote. Brigadier Pierino Okoya, the deputy chief of the army and Amin's sole rival among senior army officers, tells Obote and Amin that the net is closing in on the perpetrators and that all will be revealed
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