President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda has been allegedly saved by his highly trusted and no nonsense military officer from an Idi Amin- style Coup while he was away at a commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Rwanda.
On January 25, 1971, former president of Uganda, Dr. Apollo Militon Obote was abroad attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Singapore when the Army Chief Idi Amin staged a coup and dismissed Obote as President.
The atmosphere within the military and country in 1970’s was very much similar to the current situation both in Uganda and the military.
“There’s so much intrigue reportedly ongoing inside Uganda’s army,” according to a local outlet with links to the intelligence.
According to reliable Intelligence sources privy with the internal dynamics in the UPDF, several intelligence officers have already alerted President Museveni that there is a mutiny element within the army.
To make this whole situation very worrying, the CDF Gen. Wilson Mbadi was apparently out of the country in neighboring Kenya, his deputy Lt.Gen. Elwelu who was overwhelmed by an alleged impending mutiny decided to use his authority to issue an order to all military officers to be on stand-by at class 1, and ordered all of them to stay in their positions since Wednesday.
Under this Standby Class One order, “no military officer is supposed to leave the barracks under the class 1 arrangement till the situation returns to normal.”
The CDF Gen. Wilson Mbadi was in Kenya to be part of the conference that will work upon a regional force to be deployed in the DRC in wake of the M23 rebel clashes.
Unlike what has transpired in other African countries while the president is away or sick, Elwelu is arguably a staunch Christian and very loyal senior officer that would do anything to keep the regime intact.
Lt.Gen.Elwelu managed to use his capacity to issue a standby order to prevent a repeat of what Idi Amin and forces loyal to him did in 1971.
Museveni, however did not return to Uganda via Entebbe international airport but preferred to strategically camp at Ntungamo a place he was raised as a child and enjoys unwavering support. It is here that President Museveni summoned all military service chiefs for crisis talks.
“I met with the UPDF Service Chiefs at 401 Brigade Headquarters in Irenga, Ntungamo District,” President Museveni said shortly after returning to Uganda and meeting these service chiefs at a border district of Ntungabo.
It should be recalled that in 1971, Amin had learned that President Obote was planning to arrest him for misappropriating army funds. However, the unavoidable CHOGM in Singapore provided a ripe opportunity for Gen. Amin to stage a coup.
Amin launched a coup on 25 January 1971. Army and military police forces loyal to Amin moved to secure strategic positions in and around Kampala and Entebbe.
The putschists sealed off Entebbe International Airport to prevent Obote’s return, and tanks and soldiers patrolled the streets of Kampala and Entebbe. Here, some soldiers loyal to President Obote and members of the General Service Unit resisted the coup forces while some fighting also took place at the Kampala police college.
Overall, the Obote loyalists were too disorganized to offer an effective resistance, and they were quickly overwhelmed. At 4:30pm it was announced that the Army and the police under Amin’s leadership had control of the entire country.
Lt. Gen. Peter Elwelu
In 2016, Lt. Gen. Peter Elwelu attracted global media headlines for storming a cultural king in western Uganda killing hundreds of people and later boasted, he was “wise” to storm a cultural king’s palace.
President Museveni Promoted Brigadier Elwelu to a high rank of Lieutenant General but was sanctioned by the United States and reported to the International Criminal Court.
Lt. Gen. Peter Elwelu has since been elevated to Deputy Chief of Defence forces (D/CDF) an indication that President Museveni has high hopes and trust in Elwelu.