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date: 26 September 2022

Uganda–Tanzania Warlocked

Uganda–Tanzania Warlocked

  • Charles ThomasCharles ThomasAir Command and Staff College

Summary

The Uganda–Tanzania War was a military conflict between Idi Amin’s regime in Uganda and Julius Nyerere’s Tanzania. The roots of the conflict can be traced back to Amin’s seizure of power in Uganda in a coup against Nyerere’s ally Milton Obote in 1971. Their mutual animosity was then cemented by Nyerere’s approval of an invasion of Uganda by armed exiles the following year. The two countries continued to have strained relationships, leading to border disputes and faltering regional relations. Finally, in October 1978, Amin’s military invaded Tanzania and declared the annexation of all territory north of the Kagera River.

This invasion convinced President Nyerere that Amin must be dealt with once and for all. Following a period of mobilization, the Tanzanian military forced the retreat of the Ugandan forces and prepared an invasion of Uganda. The Tanzanians then won a series of battles in southern Uganda, routing Amin’s military forces and their Libyan allies. Nyerere and the Ugandan exiles then focused on taking Kampala and installing representative government. These goals were accomplished in April of 1979 and the Tanzanians completed the removal of Amin loyalist forces in June, marking an end to the war.

The Kagera War shaped much of the future for both countries. For Tanzania the war was seen as a unifying patriotic struggle. However, the economic strain of the war combined with the challenges of demobilization undermined President Nyerere’s struggling ujamaa villagization efforts. For Uganda the removal of the Amin regime was a welcome change, but not one that brought peace. The elected government of Godfrey Binaisa was removed in a coup and the return of Milton Obote to power led to a series of rebellions. The chaos released in the postwar period would only end with Museveni’s seizure of power in 1986.

Subjects

  • East Africa and Indian Ocean
  • Military History

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