Uganda 1975/86

Presidents come and Presidents go

It has to be said that Uganda is not a name that springs to mind as one of the countries that have been associated with the use of mercenaries to help settled leadership squabbles within its borders. However, on more than one occasion mercenary armies have been recruited and readied for action to back several different claimants to the position of President of the country.

Most of these undertakings took place after the over throw of Idi Amin, and his terrible rule of terror that came to an end in 1979.  However, the change over did not take place in a calm collective air as was hoped by most on looking and neighbouring countries. It was left to President Binaisa to take over, a move that was looked upon by outside onlookers as a good move at the time. However, it soon became apparent that life within Uganda would not change, and for almost all of the country it was just going to be a continuation of what they that had been used to under Idi Amines rule.

By 1980 President Binaisa had been replaced by Milton Obote who had already held the Presidential position a few years earlier. Leaving ex president Benaisa to flee to Kenya where he put his weight behind an anti Obote movement. However, he was finally deported and moved to London. While there he made contact with a mercenary recruitment group and set about organizing and Army to place him back in power back in Uganda. It’s reported that at one time his recruiters claimed that they had around 400 to 500 men ready to deploy in Uganda at a few days notice. The whole operation was to be based in Zaire and carried out in two stages. First stage being the flying in of mercenaries to take the Ugandan airport at Entebbe and also the centre of the capital Kampala. The second stage was to send in back up where required.

There were suggestions that the C.I.A. might have been one of the backers. Whatever the money failed to appear and so the whole operation fell through and was called off.

Back in Uganda, Milton Obote had been deposed by his opposition once before, while he was attending a Commonwealth Conference meeting outside of the country. As is known to most African leaders this is always a bad time for them, as many have found out the hard way. Obote had already been turned down by the British Government when asked for military help to stabilize his country.

However, unbeknown by many at the time Milton Obote was ahead of his rivals and the British and had already been in touch with a British recruitment company known as Falconstar, run by Peter Lemarchant an Ex Scots Guardsman.  Obotes gamble paid off and in 1982 Falconstar sent out a small group of ex soldiers to train and organize the Ugandan Police Special Force. Although Obote was totally unaware that Falconstar had been in touch with the British Government and been given the green light by them to work for Obote.

Later they British Government signed an agreement with Obote and sent out a twelve man team to run a Sandhurst style course for the Ugandan army, which ended the agreement Obote had with Falconstar.

In 1985 another British recruitment company called Defense Systems Ltd of London, and run by a former S.A.S.  Officer Alastair Morrison was recruited by Obote, who was by now under pressure from others in Uganda also wanting to become President. Defense Systems contract was to help teach low level tactical flying of helicopters.  They were only in the country for about three weeks when moves were made against Obote, when Yoweri Museveni advanced victoriously into Kampala. Defense Systems employees ceased flying claiming they were only advisors, and got out of the country as quick as possible.

However, there is evidence that there were a few white mercenaries flying helicopters on fighting missions in the area. It is also know that Bill Waugh was a personal pilot for General Tito Okello and that he eventually flew him out of the county to the Sudan.

© Copyright Terrance Aspinall. 2009

Photo Gallery

Government positions held at that time

Walter Fleming Coutts       ....
9 Oct 1962 -  9 Oct 1963 (+1988)

Presidents of the Republic
Edward Mutebi Mutesa II     9 Oct 1963 -  2 Mar 1966 (+1969)  KY (1) ...(*1)
Apolo Milton Obote         ....15 Apr 1966 - 25 Jan 1971 (+2005)  UPC
Idi Amin Dada              ........25 Jan 1971 - 13 Apr 1979 (+2003)  military (*2)
Yusufu Kironde Lule        .....13 Apr 1979 - 20 Jun 1979 (+1985)  UNLF
Godfrey Lukongwa Binaisa   20 Jun 1979 - 12 May 1980          UNLF

Chairman of the Military Commission of the UNLF
Paulo Muwanga              ......12 May 1980 - 22 May 1980 (+1991)  UNLF

Presidential Commission
Saulo Musoke             
Polycarp Nyamuchoncho    
Yoweri Hunter Wacha-Olwol .....22 May 1980 - 15 Dec 1980    

President of the Republic
Apolo Milton Obote         ... 15 Dec 1980 - 27 Jul 1985 (+2005)  ..UPC

Chairmen of the Military Council
Basilio Olara Okello       .....27 Jul 1985 - 29 Jul 1985 (+1990)    Military
Tito Lutwa Okello          ...... 29 Jul 1985 - 26 Jan 1986 (+1996)  ..Military

President of the Republic
Yoweri Kaguta Museveni     26 Jan 1986                     ......Military/NRM ....(*3)

(*1) Also King of Buganda.
(*2) To 21 Feb 1971 styled military head of State. President for life since 25 Jun 1976.
(*3) To 29 Jan 1986 only styled chairman of Council of the National Resistance Army (NRA).

Prime Ministers

Chief ministers
Benedicto Kiwanuka         2 Jul 1961 - 30 Apr 1962 (+1972)a ....
Apolo Milton Obote         ..30 Apr 1962 -  9 Oct 1962 (+2005)  ...UPC

Prime ministers
Apolo Milton Obote          ..9 Oct 1962 - 15 Apr 1966 (+2005)  ....UPC
Erifasi Otema Allimadi     ..18 Dec 1980 - 27 Jul 1985 (+2001)    .UPC
Paulo Muwanga               .1 Aug 1985 - 25 Aug 1985 (+1991) 
Abraham Waligo             ...25 Aug 1985 - 26 Jan 1986 (+2000)
Samson Kisekka             . .30 Jan 1986 - 22 Jan 1991 (+1999)   NRM
George Cosmas Adyebo   22 Jan 1991 - 18 Nov 1994          ......NRM
Kintu Musoke               .... 18 Nov 1994 -  5 Apr 1999                  NRM
Apolo Nsibambi              ... 5 Apr 1999 -                      ................ NRM