Uganda–Tanzania War

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Uganda-Tanzania War
Result Tanzanian victory; overthrow of Idi Amin in Uganda
Flag of Uganda.svg Uganda
Flag of Libya.svg Libya
Flag of Tanzania.svg Tanzania People's Defence Force & Uganda National Liberation Army
Commanders and leaders
Idi Amin Tanzanian army: Julius Nyerere
UNLF: Tito Okello, Yoweri Museveni, David Oyite-Ojok
3,000 Libyans, unknown number of Ugandan Army troops 100,000 Tanzanians, unknown number of Ugandan resistance troops, unknown number of Rwandan guerillas

Uganda-Tanzania War (usually referred to in Uganda as the Liberation War) was fought between Uganda and Tanzania in 1978-1979, and led to the overthrow of Idi Amin's regime.

Events leading to the war

In 1978, some units of the Uganda's armed forces mutinied, following dissatisfaction with president Idi Amin. Some of the mutineers fled across the Tanzanian border joining the National Liberation Front (UNLF), which had been formed by other exiled Ugandans to fight Idi Amin's army. In October 1978, Amin sent troops against the mutineers, and on November 1, 1978 he accused Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere of waging war against Uganda, and attempted to invade Tanzanian territory and formally annex a section of the Kagera Region across the boundary .

The war

Nyerere mobilized the Tanzania People's Defence Force and counterattacked. In a few weeks, the Tanzanian army was expanded from less than 40,000 troops to over 100,000 including members of the police, prison services, national service and the militia. The Tanzanians were joined by several anti-Amin groups consisting of Ugandan exiles, who at a conference in Moshi (the Moshi Conference) had united as the Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA). These included Kikosi Maalum commanded by Tito Okello and David Oyite Ojok, FRONASA commanded by Yoweri Museveni and Save Uganda Movement commanded by Akena p'Ojok, William Omaria and Ateker Ejalu.

The Tanzanian Army acquired a Russian BM Katyusha rocket launcher (known in Uganda as saba saba), with which they started to bomb targets in Uganda. [1] The Ugandan Army retreated steadily. Libya's Muammar al-Gaddafi sent 3,000 troops to aid Amin, but the Libyans soon found themselves on the front line, while behind them Ugandan Army units were using supply trucks to carry their newly plundered wealth in the opposite direction. Tanzanian and UNLA forces met little resistance, and invaded Uganda, taking Kampala in April 1979. Amin fled, first to Libya and later to Saudi Arabia. The Tanzanian army remained in Uganda to maintain peace while the UNLF (the political wing of the UNLA) organized elections to return the country to civilian rule.


The period following the ousting of Amin proved to be a time of intense competition and fighting for power among different groups made up of political and ethnic rivals. Yusuf Lule had been installed as president by Tanzania. In June 1979, following a dispute over the extent of presidential powers, the National Consultative Commission, which was then the supreme governing body of the UNLF, replaced Lule with Godfrey Binaisa. Binaisa was himself removed on 12 May 1980 by the Military Commission, a powerful organ of the UNLF headed by the Paulo Muwanga, and whose deputy was Yoweri Museveni (then leader of Uganda Patriotic Movement). The country was then led by the Presidential Commission of Uganda with among others Paulo Muwanga, Yoweri Museveni, Oyite Ojok and Tito Okello. The Presidential Commission ruled Uganda until the December 1980 general elections which were won by Milton Obote's Uganda Peoples Congress. The elections were bitterly disputed. Yoweri Museveni alleged electoral fraud and declared an armed rebellion against the government of Obote, plunging the country into the civil war which came to be known as the bush war.

See also


  1. ^ "Fighting for Amin", The East African, April 8, 2002