Politics and the Military in Uganda, 1890-1985

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How was the military dictatorship of Idi Amin possible? Was it inevitable? The author seeks the answers to these questions in the political and military history of Uganda from colonial times. He analyses evidence not previously published to show that ethnic and linguistic groupings have been manipulated within the army for particular political interests throughout the army's history; Amin carried such manipulation to extreme. An important new concept is introduced, the 'familiarity syndrome', to explain the difference in attitude of the troops towards their officers between the colonial and post-colonial periods, demonstrating that this change facilitated Amin's military coup in independent Uganda. The author also suggests that colonial principles for the deployment of troops favoured the rise of Amin and his like within the ranks. Finally, the author considers the regimes which have followed Amin's dictatorship in Uganda, exploring the political role of the army after it has taken power. This case study of Uganda contains valuable insights into civil-military relations elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa.