The family of the late president Idi Amin has responded to a promise made by Go Forward candidate, Amama Mbabazi, regarding the return of their loved one’s remains.
Idi Amin Dada (c. 1923-28 – 16 August 2003) was the third President of Uganda, ruling from 1971 to 1979.
At the demise of his eight-year regime, Amin to fled into exile to Libya and then Saudi Arabia, where he lived until his death on 16 August 2003.
While campaigning in Koboko North in the West Nile on Tuesday, Mbabazi promised to repatriate Amin’s remains from his Islamic burial place in Saudi Arabia once elected president.
In a statement, Amin’s son Hussein Lumumba Amin thanked Mbabazi for bringing up the matter again.
“I imagine that it should be beneficial for him to make such a statement during campaign season and at a time when the Ugandan people are revisiting the negative history that was maliciously propagated in regards to my father, the late Al Hajji Field Marshal Idi Amin.”
Lumumba said youths now know he was a leader who did so much for his country and its people, to the extent that he is considered “by many Ugandans as the most patriotic leader the country has ever had”.
“It wasn’t a haphazard decision we took when the family decided to conduct his funeral in Saudi Arabia.”
He said consultations from several stakeholders with diverging opinions were made including with officials in Uganda and the Royal Court of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques the late King Abdallah nine Abdul Aziz (Allah have mercy on him) personally telephoned the family from Paris where he was on official visit, and offered his condolences as well as inquired on the burial arrangements.
“I told him about official items that my father specifically requested that we hand over to the Saudi King.”
This included a Ugandan flag and also his personal protection weapons, one which was made from France and had his name engraved on, plus other confidential documents.
His Royal Highness the late Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz personally came to mourn with the family and discuss the matter.
“Other Saudi Royalty, diplomats from world embassies, as well as businessmen, African ambassadors and students, came for the Islamically prescribed three day funeral.”
Lumumba says prayers were conducted for his father simultaneously at Islam’s three Holiest Mosques: The Holy Mosque in Mecca, the Holy Mosque of the Prophet in Medina, and the Holy Al Aqsa Mosque in Palestine.
“We had also consulted officials in Kampala and had received the government position from spokesperson Ofwono Opondo by text message after I had kindly requested him to inquire with his seniors.”
Islamic religious leaders and scholars both in Saudi Arabia and Uganda were also consulted in line with Amin’s request that whatever should happen to him, his funeral should be conducted strictly according to Islamic norms and rules.
“As the most senior son near my father when he died, Saudi law required that I sign the final decision before we could go for the funeral.”
The decision was handed to the Saudi Royal court for their official records together with a copy of Lumumba’s passport.
“And that is how we all came to the decision on where my father Al Hajji Field Marshal Idi Amin, will lay to rest.”
He said, however, since the repatriation idea has also been suggested as a meaningful vehicle for Uganda’s national reconciliation, Lumumba said they would join the country to mourn the Late Archbishop Janan Luwum at the upcoming memorial.
“I believe it is a worthy conciliatory gesture for us to at least be present at this important national ceremony scheduled for 16/02/2016.”