The Build-up, the Coup and the Aftermath, 1969–71
This chapter assesses Idi Amin's seizure of power, which was central both to his life story and to his image and myth. For most, including many Ugandans, the 1971 coup represents the key moment in Uganda's post-independence history, at which the country began to slide downwards economically, socially, and politically, towards a penurious despotism. Unsurprisingly, there are widely differing accounts of the actual events of January 25, 1971, even among those who were there at the time and knew many of the participants. At the time, Amin's seizure of state power was widely welcomed in both Uganda and the West. The chapter considers British archive material from the period and later Ugandan analyses of the coup. The evidence suggests that the British High Commission knew little about what was going on, while the Israelis certainly seem to have had greater involvement, and Burka Bar-Lev may well have advised and assisted Amin before and during the coup. This does not, however, mean that the Israelis were 'behind it', rather than simply trying to steer and take advantage of events that were unfolding anyway.
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