Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Return our dad's property, says Amin's family

The family of Idi Amin Dada has written to President Yoweri Museveni, asking the Government to return the personal property of the former president. The family wants back Amin’s house in Mbuya, Kampala, a ranch in Masindi and prime property in Munyonyo, a wealthy Kampala suburb.

The deceased leader’s eldest son, Taban Amin, said Museveni had agreed to renovate and return the Mbuya house, which is currently occupied by the army, and they were waiting for him to make good on his promise. “The Government returned the property of other former presidents, so we have made a similar request that all our late father’s property be given back to his family,” Taban said on Friday. In 2006 when former president Milton Obote died in South Africa after 20 years of exile in Zambia, the Government returned his house in Kololo to the family.

Taban said the former Cape Town Villas in Munyonyo, one of the venues of the 1975 Organisation of Africa Unity summit, belonged to his father. It was at the same venue that Amin simulated an attack on the South African city of Cape Town, in a bid to persuade other African countries to accept Uganda’s leadership in launching a war to end the apartheid regime there. The land has since been acquired by Kampala tycoon Gordon Wavamunno. Amin’s family also wants back Ranch 11 located in Buyale in Masindi District and Paradise beach on the shores of Lake Victoria.

The family has asked Maimuna Amin, one of the former president’s daughters, to pursue the return of Amin’s property.

Amin, who was deposed in 1979 by a joint force of Tanzanian and Ugandan exiles, fled to Libya and later relocated to Saudi Arabia. He died in King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Jeddah on August 16, 2003 and was buried in Ruwais Cemetery in Jeddah. One of Amin’s wives, Madina, on July 20, 2003 pleaded with Museveni to allow her husband to return home to die, but Museveni said Amin would have to “answer for his sins” the moment he returned. A source said some family members wanted the body of the former president returned to Uganda although they were advised not to pursue this line since it would not be accepted. Taban, however, said the family had dropped the idea of returning his father’s body. “As Muslims we were advised that we cannot bury someone twice. Besides, the old man had said that he should be buried in Saudi Arabia,” he said.

Until 2003, Taban was the leader of West Nile Bank Front, a rebel group with bases in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In 2005, he was granted amnesty by Museveni and in 2006 appointed Deputy Director General of the Internal Security Organisation.

Another of Amin’s sons, Haji Ali Amin, ran for election for the post of mayor of Njeru Town Council in 2002, but was not elected. Another son, Jaffar, spoke out in his father’s defence, following the 2007 release of the award-winning film The Last King of Scotland, a fictional account of Amin’s reign. Jaffar said he was writing a book to defend his father’s reputation.

On August 3, 2007, Faisal Wangita, yet another of Amin’s sons, was convicted for playing a role in a murder in London.

Amin took power after deposing Obote in a military coup in January 1971. His rule was characterised by human rights abuses, political repression, mysterious disappearances, ethnic persecution, extra-judicial killings and the expulsion of Indians from Uganda.

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