Idi Amin says he is happy with religion

 

Former Ugandan despot Gen Idi Amin has said he is at peace with himself and that his only passion now is Islam, according to an interview published in Uganda's Sunday Vision newspaper.

"I am leading a quiet life and committed to my religion, Islam, and Allah. I don't have problems with anyone," Gen Amin told the newspaper's reporter in his luxury home in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah, where he has lived since his brutal regime was toppled in 1979.

His reign of terror lasted from 1971, when he seized power from president Milton Obote, to 1979, when Tanzanian troops and Ugandan rebels stormed Kampala and removed him from power after his ill-advised attempt to invade Tanzania. Gen Amin fled first to Libya and then to Saudi Arabia. He left behind a devastated country, forced for years to bend to his megalomaniac tendencies.

"I left Uganda nearly 20 years ago but today [Ugandan President Yoweri] Museveni still abuses me," the former dictator told the state-owned newspaper. Gen Amin claimed that "unlike some African heads of state" he did not flee Uganda with state funds.

"But I am satisfied with what I am getting and even paying school fees for a number of my orphaned relatives in Uganda, and helping needy people," he said.

During the 80-minute interview, his first in 19 years, Gen Amin refused to answer questions about his family, including his new Ugandan-born wife and newly born baby.

But he was happy to speak about his pastimes, which, he said, included reciting Koranic verses, swimming, fishing in the Red Sea, reading and watching television.

He recently installed five television satellite dishes at his residence.

Gen Amin also enjoys playing his accordion and singing songs from his days as a soldier in the King's African Rifles, the African battalion of British troops during the second World War.

The well-built former self-styled field marshal now lives just outside Jeddah in an exclusive residential area, the reserve of rich and powerful Arab oil moguls. He is said to receive a handsome monthly stipend from the Saudi government.

Gen Amin (heavyweight boxing champion of his country between 1951 and 1960) was described by the writer as "well-fed".

The former dictator revealed that he still gets his favourite Ugandan foodstuffs flown to him.

They include cassava flour, fresh cassava, millet flour and matoke (green bananas).