Here’s A Profile Of Uganda’s Presidents Since 1962

It is said that you can only know where you’re going if you know where you’ve been.


As the Independence day draws nearer,we look back at how far this lovely motherland has come in-terms of leadership.Having received independence on 9th,October 2015,Uganda has seen a transition from where it was 53 years ago to now.


Here’s a brief profile about the men who have held power as presidents to the Pearl since 1962.

  • Sir Edward Muteesa Luwangula Walugembe Muteesa II


Muteesa was born to Lady Irene Drusilla Namaganda and Sir Daudi Chwa II in Makindye, Kampala, on 19 November 1924.He was the fifth son of Sir Daudi Chwa II, Kabaka of Buganda who reigned between 1897 and 1939.At the age of five, his father took him in one of the best schools at the time, Kings College Buddo.


At the age of fifteen, upon the death of his father on 22 November 1939, Muteesa was proclaimed and installed outside the Lubiri at Mengo as the Kabaka. on 26 November 1939. Thereafter he reigned under a Council of Regents until he came of age and assumed full powers.


In 1962 Uganda became independent from Britain under the leadership of Milton Obote. Under the country’s new constitution, the Kingdom of Buganda became a semi-autonomous part of a new Ugandan federation. Obote became the Prime Minister, while Muteesa became the first ever President.


  • Apollo Milton Obote (Obote I) 1966 – 1971.

Milton Obote

He is the only President to have sat in State House on two different tenures; first in the 60’s just after Independence and then from 1981-85 after Idi Amin. It was also to Milton Obote that the very symbolically important National Flag was handed at Independence Day on October 9th, 1962.

  • Idi Amin Dada (1971 – 1979).

Amin was the third President of Uganda, ruling from 1971 to 1979.There are several accounts on when he was born in Koboko to a Kakwa father and a Lugbara mother.His actual year of birth is not clear too. It is said that he was born between 1925 and 1928.

Amin joined the British colonial regiment, the King’s African Rifles, in 1946, serving in Kenya and Uganda. Eventually, Amin held the rank of major general in the post-colonial Ugandan Army and became its commander before seizing power in the military coup of January 1971, deposing Milton Obote.


He came in to power after the 1971 coup,he was soon declared President while Obote was attending a Common Wealth Conference in Singapore.He expelled all Asians from Uganda in  1972, giving the only 90 days to vacate or perish.


In 1978, his soldiers launched an attack on the Kagera Salient in Tanzania and captured it. Little known to Amin, this was the sign that the Tanzanians and various exile groups wanted to get rid of Amin.They were defeated in  April 1979 and Amin fled to Libya and later Saudi Arabia where he died on August 16, 2003.


  • Yusuf Kironde Lule (13 April 1979 – 20 June 1979).

Lule was born to Abdullah Kironde of Mpigi district in January 1912. His father sent him to a local primary school in Mpigi before joining the prestigious King’s College Budo and later Makerere College to study education, with a specialty in Sociology.


He was a very intelligent learner who graduated top of his class and became a lecturer in the department of Education at Makerere College.


The first black principal of Makerere University College, Lule was installed president by the Uganda National Liberation Front (UNLF) shortly after the fall of dictator Idi Amin Dada.


In 1984 however, Lule fell ill and died of kidney failure at Hammersmith Hospital in London

  • Godfrey Lukongwa Binaisa (1979 – 1980).

Godfrey Lukongwa Binaisa was the fourth President of Uganda.Godfrey Binaisa was born in 1920 to Canon Ananias Binaisa a then well known preacher. He went to King’s College, Buddo one of the leading schools at the time in the country.


He qualified as a Lawyer in London in 1955 and became a member of the bar at Lincoln’s Inn in 1956. On his return to the country, he joined politics at a time when the country was variously fighting for independence. He subsequently joined Uganda National Congress (UNC) and later Uganda People’s Congress (UPC).After Independence, he was named Uganda’s first Attorney General in 1962.


Binaisa also took part in various meetings as part of the post-Amin era. It was through these meetings that he was spotted as a possible ‘figure head’ and hence named to the top office and officially became President of Uganda in June 1979.


He also tried to introduce his own system of governance which he called the ‘Umbrella’ (Minvuli) under which those standing for political office would do so without necessarily belonging to any political party. He lost the Presidency in May 1980 after 11 months as President.

Binaisa returned to Uganda in 1999  from exile and settled back at home,In 2004, he remarried 56 year old Yamamoto.In later years, he was in and out of hospital suffering from various illnesses. He died in 2010, aged 91 years old.


  • Paulo Muwanga (12 May 1980 – 22 May 1980)


Paulo was the chairman of the governing Military Commission, and the de facto President of Uganda for a few days in May 1980 until the establishment of the Presidential Commission of Uganda.


The Presidential Commission with Muwanga as chairman held the powers of the president of Uganda between 22 May and 15 December 1980. This was after Muwanga, together with Yoweri Museveni, Oyite Ojok and Tito Okello had deposed Godfrey Binaisa in a coup on 12 May 1980.


Following the elections held on 10 December 1980, Muwanga installed himself as the head of the Electoral Commission and declared Milton Obote’s Uganda People’s Congress the winner. The election results were contested. Yoweri Museveni waged a guerrilla war in protest, eventually becoming president.


Paulo Muwanga died on 2nd April, 1991 in Nsambya


Apollo Milton Obote (Obote II-17 December 1980 to 27 July 1985)

Milton Obote was born in Akokoro in 1925 to Stanley Opeto a village chief and Puliska Opeto. He was the third child out of 11 children.


For Primary education, he went to Ibuje Primary School in Lira and later moved to Jinja to  join the famous Busoga College, Mwiri for his higher education. He later qualified to join Makerere College (now Makerere University) to study Economics.


On January 25, 1971, while Obote was attending a Common Wealth Conference in Singapore, he was overthrown by Idi Amin.


Obote ended up in Tanzania as a refugee, however, he soon started organizing fighters to come back and overthrow Idi Amin. In 1971, he tried to organize a force to attack Uganda from the Sudan.


When Amin attacked Tanzania in 1978, Obote and his fighters on one part, then other groups like FRONASA supported by the Tanzanian government counter attacked and on April 11 1979, overthrew Amin.


On July 27th 1985, Obote was again overthrown by the army. He fled to Zambia and remained there until his death in 2005.


Tito Okello Lutwa

Tito Okello


Born in Nam Okora, Kitgum district in 1914, the year in which the First World War began, Tito Okello was destined to be a soldier right from the word go.


In 1940, aged 26 years, he joined the Kings African Rifles (KAR), the regional colonial army at the time.Tito Okello later joined the Uganda Army as the country got independence. He soon rose to the rank of Lt of the Uganda Army in 1962 and by 1968, he had risen to the rank of Colonel. At the time, he was one of the highest ranked soldiers in the country.



July 27, 1985. Immediately, they named General Tito Okello as President of the Military Council, but his was not a very easy Presidency.


On January 26, Tito Okello was overthrown. He went to exile in different countries including Kenya, Tanzania and several in Europe before his death in 1996, aged 82 years. Tito Okello was married to Esther Okello. Years later, one of Tito Okello’s sons Okello Oryem served as Minister in the NRM government. He is buried in Kitgum.

  • Yoweri Kaguta Museveni


Born in Southwestern Ntungamo district in 1944 to Amos Kaguta, a cattle herdsman, Museveni attended Kyamate Primary School, Mbarara High School and completed his secondary school education at Ntare School. He went to Tanzania’s Dar es Salaam University in 1967, where he obtained a degree in economics and political science.


Museveni formed a political party, the Uganda Patriotic Movement, which won one out of 126 seats in parliament in general elections in 1980. He rejected the election results and in 1981 began a rebellion against the new administration of Obote, popularly known as “Obote II”.



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On 22 January 1986, the NRA made their final push for the capital city of Kampala, captured it and toppled Okello’s government. Museveni was sworn in as president on 29 January, promising to implement a 10-point programme for development and democracy. The NRA was later turned into the national army, adopting the name Uganda People’s Defence Forces.


Museveni is so far the longest serving president to Uganda (1986-2015) who has served for four terms and is vying for his 5th term in the 2016 election.