Idi Amin critically ill in Saudi hospital


Idi Amin Dada, whose eight-year presidency of African nation Uganda is remembered by the torture and murder of more than 200 000 people, is in a coma in a Saudi hospital, medical staff at the hospital said on Sunday.

Amin, believed to be 80, was admitted to the King Faisal Specialist Hospital in the Red Sea port city of Jiddah on Friday, staff members said on condition of anonymity.

Amin, who has been living in exile in Saudi Arabia, had been suffering from high blood pressure and his health condition was deteriorating, medical staff said earlier on Sunday.

A hospital official said late on Sunday that the former Ugandan leader’s condition has stabilised. “The situation, according to the doctors, has improved,” the official

said on condition of anonymity.

Earlier, the same official said Amin’s condition had deteriorated so much that “we don’t expect him to last until tomorrow.”

Amin has been in a coma since his admission and is in the intensive care unit on a respirator. Three of his sons were by their father’s bedside on Sunday.

In Uganda, the independent Sunday Monitor reported that Amin, who seized power in 1971 and was ousted in 1979, has been undergoing treatment for the past three months for hypertension and “general fatigue.”

The newspaper quoted Nalongo Madina Amin—“Amin’s favourite wife”—as saying she had approached Ugandan President Yoweri 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.”

In Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where Museveni was attending a meeting on Burundi, his press assistant, Oonapito Ekonioloit, said Amin was in Saudi Arabia on his own accord and that his relatives “are free to bring him back to Uganda.”

“Everyone knows he has a past.
If he has any case to answer, it will be dealt with according to the law,” Ekonioloit said. “He’s a free citizen. It’s a private matter between Amin and his family whether they want to bring him back alive or dead.”

Amin, who served in the British colonial King’s African Rifles and saw action in World War II 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.

He fell out with Ugandan leader Milton Obote and ousted him on January 25, 1971 when Obote 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, which ended 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 northwestern Uganda, went into exile first in Libya, then Iraq and finally settled in Saudi Arabia on the condition that he stay out of politics. - Sapa-AP

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