Idi Amin Dada, one of Africa’s most notorious dictators, is in a coma in a hospital in Saudi Arabia, a newspaper reported today.
The independent Sunday Monitor said 80-year-old Amin, who seized power in 1971 and was ousted in 1979, was admitted to hospital on Friday and went into a coma.
The newspaper, citing unnamed sources in President Yoweri Museveni’s office, said Amin had been undergoing treatment for the past three months for hypertension and “general fatigue” but had been discharged from hospital three weeks ago.
The newspaper said Nalongo Madina Amin – “Amin’s favourite wife” – said two of Amin’s sons were with him at the unidentified hospital and had confirmed to her that he had fallen into a coma.
Madina told The Sunday Monitor that she had approached Museveni some time ago and asked that Amin be allowed to return to Uganda to die but was told the former dictator would have to “answer for his sins”.
Amin, who served in the British colonial King’s African Rifles and saw action in the Second World War in Burma, was a well-regarded officer at the time of Uganda’s independence from Britain in 1962. He rose to chief of staff of Uganda’s army and air force in 1966.
But he fell out with Prime Minister and President Milton Obote and ousted him in January 1971 when the head of state was attending an African summit.
Although initially popular, Amin grew increasingly authoritarian, violent and subject to mood swings.
It is estimated that more than 200,000 Ugandans were tortured and murdered during his regime that ended on April 11, 1979 when he was ousted by a combined force of Ugandan exiles – including Museveni – and the Tanzanian army.
Amin, a Muslim and member of the small Kakwa tribe from north-west Uganda, went into exile first in Libya, then Iraq and finally settled in Saudia Arabia on the condition that he stay out of politics.