Uganda National Liberation Front

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Uganda National Liberation Front
LeadersMilton Obote
Yoweri Museveni
Akena p'Ojok
John Barigye
Dates of operation1979
Group(s)Kikosi Maalum
HeadquartersMoshi, Tanzania
IdeologyAnti-Idi Amin
Part ofUganda National Liberation Army
Allies Tanzania
OpponentsUganda Idi Amin's regime
Battles and warsUganda–Tanzania War

The Uganda National Liberation Front (UNLF) was a political group formed by exiled Ugandans opposed to the rule of Idi Amin with an accompanying military wing, the Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA). UNLA fought alongside Tanzanian forces in the Uganda–Tanzania War that led to the overthrow of Idi Amin's regime. The group ruled Uganda from the overthrow of Amin in April 1979 until the disputed national elections in December 1980.


The UNLF was formed as an outcome of a meeting of Ugandan exiles from 24 to 26 March 1979 in the northern Tanzanian town of Moshi. In the meeting, known as the Moshi Conference, 28 groups were represented. The most important groups that united to form UNLA included Kikosi Maalum led by Milton Obote (with Tito Okello and David Oyite Ojok as commanders); FRONASA led by Yoweri Museveni;[1] and the Save Uganda Movement.[2]

Unit Leader(s) Base(s)
Obote's faction (Uganda People's Congress, Kikosi Maalum)[2][1] Milton Obote Tanzania,[1] Kenya, Zambia, United Kingdom[2]
FRONASA[2][1] Yoweri Museveni Tanzania[2]
Save Uganda Movement[2] Akena p'Ojok, William Omaria, Ateker Ejalu[3][4][2] Tanzania, Uganda[2]
Uganda Liberation Group (Z)[5][2] Immanuel Oteng[2]
Milton Obote (de facto)[5]
Uganda National Movement[5] John Barigye, Crown Prince of Ankole[2] Zambia[5]
Uganda Human Right Group[2] George Kanyeihamba[2] United Kingdom[2]
Uganda Action Group[2] Paulo Muwanga[2] United Kingdom[2]
Popular Front for the Liberation of Uganda[2] John Odongkara[2] United States[2]
Uganda Freedom Union[2] Godfrey Binaisa (?)[2] United States[2]
Relief Educational Training Uganda Refugees Now (RETURN)[2] Festo Kivengere[2] United States[2]
Uganda National Unity and Reconciliation[2] Eric Otema Alimadi[2] Tanzania[2]
Uganda Society[2] Yusuf Lule, Martin Aliker[2] Kenya[2]
Uganda Discussion Group[2] Tarsis Kabwegyere (?)[2] Kenya[2]
Uganda Nationalist Organization[2] Robert Serumaga[2] Kenya[2]
Uganda Liberation Movement[2] Dani Wadada Nabudere (?)[2] Kenya[2]
Nairobi Consultative Committee[6] Tarsis Kabwegyere, D.W. Nabudere[6] Kenya[6]
Negotiating Committee for Democratic Unity[6] Dani Wadada Nabudere (?)[6] Tanzania[6]
Moshi Discussion Group[6] ?[6] Tanzania[6]
Ad Hoc Committee for Promotion of Unity[6] Yash Tandon, Mahmood Mamdani (?)[6] Tanzania[6]
Muthaiga Discussion Group[6] Aliker (?)[6] Kenya[6]


UNLF was governed by an 11-member Executive Council originally chaired by Yusuf Lule who also held the position of President of Uganda at that Time, with Vice Chairman being Akena P' Ojok, who also held the position of Vice President of Uganda at that time. The UNLF was accompanied by a National Consultative Council (NCC) with one member for each of the 28 groups represented at the meeting. Its military arm, UNLA, fought side by side with the Tanzania People's Defence Force (TPDF) in the Uganda-Tanzania War and invaded Uganda, taking Kampala in April 1979 and sending Amin to exile. There were other party members of UNLF across the country and in the regions formed to coordinate the activities of UNLF.

Overthrowing of Idi Amin[edit]

Following the overthrow of Amin on 11 April 1979, a new UNLF government was formed under Yusuf Lule with the UNLA becoming the new national army. The leadership of the UNLF was unstable, with infighting leading to the ousting of Lule in June 1979. His replacement, Godfrey Binaisa, ruled for less than twelve months before being placed under house arrest in May 1980 following an effective coup by Paulo Muwanga. A Presidential Commission was installed with elections planned for December 1980. The exiles who formed the UNLF needed to put aside their political differences to do so. They were only united by one thing: an opposition to Amin. For this reason, the UNLF did not contest the elections with its members supporting various parties.

Following a widely disputed victory for the Uganda People's Congress (UPC) led by former president Milton Obote, many of the UNLF founding members would go on to fight against the now UPC-controlled UNLA. The UNLA was defeated on January 25, 1986 by the guerrillas of the National Resistance Army (NRA) led by Yoweri Museveni, a former member of the UNLF executive council and a minister in the UNLF government. There was a tribal conflict between the Acholi and Langi, that led to the coup d'état making Tito Okello Lutwa president of the republic.


  1. ^ a b c d Cooper & Fontanellaz 2015, pp. 27–28.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao Golooba-Mutebi 2008, p. 11.
  3. ^ Nyeko 1997, p. 105.
  4. ^ Avirgan & Honey 1983, p. 74.
  5. ^ a b c d e Nyeko 1997, p. 97.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Golooba-Mutebi 2008, p. 12.

Works cited[edit]

  • Avirgan, Tony; Honey, Martha (1983). War in Uganda: The Legacy of Idi Amin. Dar es Salaam: Tanzania Publishing House. ISBN 978-9976-1-0056-3.
  • Cooper, Tom; Fontanellaz, Adrien (2015). Wars and Insurgencies of Uganda 1971–1994. Solihull: Helion & Company Limited. ISBN 978-1-910294-55-0.
  • Golooba-Mutebi, Frederick (January 2008). "Collapse, War and Reconstruction in Uganda. An analytical narrative on state-making" (PDF). Makerere University Crisis States Working Papers Series (2). ISSN 1749-1800.
  • Nyeko, Balam (January 1997). "Exile Politics and Resistance to Dictatorship: The Ugandan Anti-Amin Organizations in Zambia, 1972-79". African Affairs. 96 (382): 95–108. doi:10.1093/oxfordjournals.afraf.a007823.