Part 2: Obote sends Amin after Buganda; Kabaka’s palace is shelled after hours of fighting

Special Reports

On February 22 1966, ministers arrived for the meeting, while meeting was in session at about 11:00am, Special Forces burst into meeting venue, and arrested ministers; Grace Ibingira, Dr Emmanuel Lumu, George Magezi, Balaki Kirya and Mathias Ngobi. These were accused of attempting to overthrow government.

Two days later, the 1962 constitution was suspended and the offices of President and Vice President Abolished. Obote managed to rule amidst strong protest from Buganda, once in a while arresting a number of them, but he was not yet done.

On April 5, 1966 Obote launched a master stroke, he forced the parliament adopt a constitution legislators had not read through and he was sworn in a executive president with army choppers flying all over the place. Government offices were forced to throw out Mutesa’s portraits and adopt the one and only Obote. He was now in for a long and hurdled journey as president.

Protest after protest rocked the government, once the democratic Obote would have to turn his government into a military junta. But first, he had to choose who to walk this journey, replacing his army commander Shaban Opolot with Idi Amin Dada and naming Oyite Ojok , the quarter master.

Opolot was paying for his decision to marry a girl from the royal clan, while Amin was earning from Obote’s mistakes. Obote had already covered him enough, lied for him, and he could not afford to let him go at this time.

Mengo was left riled by Obote’s decision to spike Mutesa from government in such a manner, on May 21 the Buganda government convened a Lukiko and gave Obote’s and Uganda’s government ten (10) days to leave the Buganda soil.

After the Lukiko, Obote arrested a litany of Baganda and chief supporters of the Kabaka, in retaliation, the Baganda protested by burning, stoning and refusing government vehicles to access Kampala. The capital started 'boiling'.

The following day, Obote called for an emergency meeting at the President lodge in Kampala. The meeting would be attended by the ministers of Defence, Internal affairs as well as the IGP.

“After some discussion, Obote told us that the disturbance was no longer a civil matter but a military one,” Henry Kyemba, Obote’s Press Secretary, who was also part of the meting states.

Following the meeting, Obote telephoned Amin via switchboard and asked him to report to the state lodge right away. Amin arrived in his sleek army jeep and full military uniform, received orders from Obote to attack the Lubiri the next morning.

Amin and his men were staged at the palace by the next morning, and Baganda loyalists who had gotten wind of the attack also poured into the Lubri to stage a fight back. For hours, the army battled a litany of Baganda who put up strict resistance. The fire exchange is said to have lasted from 8:00am to about 3:30pm when Amin and his men retreated temporarily.

Amin, was completely bitter with defeat and he couldn’t stomach it, so he dashed back to Obote. He then told the president that small arms were not helping the situation, he needed a high caliber of arms.

Obote wasn’t going to refuse, he had already done it. If the attack on the palace ended right here, he would not be in government. It was now either him or Buganda and Mutesa. He asked Amin to do his job with whatever machines he wants to deploy.

Amin drove away in a very jolly mood, according to Kyemba. Shortly after, there was a very loud sound and smoke bellowing from the Kabaka’s palace and immediately it started raining heavily.

The army waited for a reply from the Palace after the explosion, there was none. The troops moved in quickly to grab the Kabaka……… Our next article will look at what happened after.

The writer is a private contributor to Nile Post News

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