The new government of Uganda was overthrown yesterday in a bloodless coup, just two months after the ouster of the dictatorship of Idi Admin.
Godfrey Binaisa, a former attorney general, replaced President Yusufu Lule, 67, in what could well be just the first of a series of leadership changes as Uganda struggles to overcome the aftermath of eight years of bloody rule by Amin, who crushed all political opposition.
The National Consultative Council, which is serving as a rudimentary parliament, announced the move in a broadcast by Radio Kampala.
The reasons given by the council for Lule's removal indicate some of the problems in attempting to restore Uganda's political processes after Amin's erratic rule was ended in April by Tanzanian and Ugandan exile forces. It said the former professor "ignored democratic methods" by failing to consult on appointments and defense policies. It criticized him for reorganizing local government "arbitrarily" and said he had failed to set up a system to reestablish businesses.
Binaisa, the new president, has a long record of opposition to Amin. He once took the Amin government to court and won a $175,000 settlement for the murder to two Americans by Ugandan troops in 1971.
Binaisa, 60, Represented the families of Nicholas Stroh, a freelance journalist, and Robert Seidle, a professor, who were killed while investigating reports of a massacre in southern Uganda. He won a $100,000 for Stroh's family and $75,000 for Seidle's in 1972 in the largest such judgment in Uganda.
The next year Binaisa decided he would be better off leaving Uganda and lived in Britain and the United States the last six years while participating in exile movements to overthrow Amin. He was instrumental in an investigation of Uganda by the International Commission of Jurists that led to the First detailed charges of atrocities in the country.
It is unclear how Binaisa's appointment will affect the fortunes of former president Milton Obote, who was overthrown by Amin. Obote, who shares Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere's socialist ideals, has been seeking to return to Uganda from exile in Dar es Salaam.
Binaisa served as attorney general under Obote but was forced out of office in 1967 in a difference with the president over the constitution.
There was no indication that Tanzania, which has about 20,000 troops still in Uganda, played any role in the ouster of Lule.
Diplomats in Washington said it was more likely that the ouster was the result of internal jockeying for power between Lule and The Consultative Council, which appointed him to be president during a meeting of exile groups in Moshi, Tanzania, before Amin was overthrown.
One U.S. official said, "It would be foolish to predict that any leader could last long" in a situation where nobody has a mandate to rule and the only military security is provided by a foreign army.
The United States formally resumed relations with Uganda only this week after a break of almost six years with the arrival in Kampala of David Halsted as charge d'affaires. Ironically, the first message he sent was to notify the State Department that the government had been overthrown.
A bill is pending in Congress to lift the ban on aid imposed during Amin's rule. It is expected that the United States will provide about $5 million in emergency assistance this year once the ban is removed.
Special correspondent Victoria Brittain reported from Nairobi, Kenya:
The first, incomplete government list issued by the new president reflects a wholesale dismissal of the Baganda tribal group that had been close to Lule. Tribal factionalism plays a large role in Ugandan politics and the Baganda have never forgiven former president Obote for his dismissal of their hereditary king.
Binaisa is a Muganda, as is Lule. CAPTION: Picture, YUSUFU LULE . . . rule called arbitrary