139. Situation Report Prepared in the Department of State1


Situation Report No. 1

Situation in Uganda as of 1830 hours (EST) February 25, 1977

1. At approximately 0600 hours (EST) 25 February 1977 the Operations Center learned via press reports that President Amin of Uganda had summoned all Americans living in Uganda to meet with him in Kampala at 1100 hours (local time) on Monday 28 February 1977. Meanwhile Ugandan border officials were to allow no Americans to depart the country. A GOU spokesman has portrayed the meeting as an opportunity for Amin to thank the Americans for their work in Uganda and that the meeting should cause no alarm.

2. An informal working group under the direction of Assistant Secretary Schaufele and Ambassador Heck was established shortly after being notified of President Amin’s statement.

3. The Ugandan Charge in Washington was called to the State Department at 0915 (EST) today in order to receive the official protest of the USG against Amin’s order restricting the right of Americans to leave Uganda. (The Charge had been called in to see AF/E Office Director Post Thursday morning at 1100 (EST) and was told: of the US concern about the human rights situation in Uganda as reflected in the President’s statement and the SFRC resolution;2 that Amin’s unfounded allegations of US complicity in attempts to overthrow him might produce inflamed local opinion against Americans living in Uganda; and that we held the GOU responsible for the safety and well being of the American citizens.)3

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4. The Department is seeking to enlist the good offices and advice of OAU Chairman Ramgoolam 4 and Secretary General Eteki,5 as well as Presidents of Zaire, Central African Empire, Somalia, and Ruanda to intervene with President Amin to assure the safety and well being of Americans resident in Uganda. A request for a joint approach to Amin is being made to the Presidents of Sudan, Egypt and Syria who are holding a summit meeting in Khartoum.

5. UN Secretary General Waldheim has told the President he will contact President Amin.

6. The Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), which has taken care of US interests in Uganda since 1973, has directed the FRG Embassy in Kampala to take all action possible to protect the approximately 240 Americans still residing in Uganda. A list of names of Americans in Uganda is being prepared.6

7. US naval vessels in the Indian Ocean (Carrier Task Group USS Enterprise, USS Truxton, USS Tautog) have been instructed to proceed to the Western Indian Ocean but to remain at least 100 miles off the Kenyan Coast.

8. Our diplomatic and consular posts in Africa, Europe and the Middle East have been instructed to advise Americans in a non-public manner not to travel to Uganda.

9. Amin’s letter to President Carter (transmitted on Uganda radio and through the FRG Embassy) has been received and the Department has recommended that it not be answered at this time.7

10. There is a [less than 1 line not declassified] report that Amin may shelve his original plan to bring the Americans to Kampala but will instead keep the Americans dispersed in the western area of Uganda where most live.

11. The German Ambassador has reported that while Amin reportedly is angry by what his Washington Chargé was told Thursday, the Ambassador had been told by the GOU Agriculture Minister that [Page 371] Monday’s scheduled meeting with the Americans would be a friendly affair. The FRG Ambassador has the impression that no drastic actions will be taken against the Americans.

12. At this point Department plans to portray US reaction to Amin’s order on a “low key” basis to avoid giving Amin any basis to misinterpret our actions or provide him with any pretext to retaliate against Americans.

13. USG is presently considering chartering a civilian aircraft to be available, possibly in Kinshasa on a stand-by basis. This aircraft would be available to evacuate any Americans who wish to leave after the Monday meeting.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country Files, Box 76, Uganda: 1–12/77. Secret. Drafted by the Uganda informal working group; [text not declassified]. Aaron wrote “ZB—Note no mention of SCC Meeting. DA” in the upper right corner. Brzezinski wrote “This is a joke!” in the right margin. For a summary of the SCC meeting, see Document 138.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 137. On February 22, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved a resolution condemning Uganda’s recent actions and urging other nations to cease supplying arms to Uganda. (“Senate Unit Condemns Uganda,” New York Times, February 23, 1977, p. 2)
  3. In telegram 42220 to USUN, February 25, the Department described the meeting between Post and Chepkwurui on Thursday, February 24. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770065–0121)
  4. In telegram 42852 to Port Louis, February 25, the Department transmitted a letter from Carter to Ramgoolam. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770066–1205)
  5. Telegram 42666 to Lome, February 25, transmitted a message from Vance to Eteki, urging the Secretary General of the OAU to “undertake any action you deem suitable to ensure that the Government of Uganda carries out its responsibility to protect the safety and well-being of Americans and other foreign nationals in Uganda, and to permit all of those to leave who express a desire to do so.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770066–1187)
  6. In telegram 3532 from Bonn, February 25, the Embassy reported that the German Ambassador in Kampala, Ellerkmann, had compiled a list of U.S. citizens in Uganda. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770066–1107)
  7. See footnote 5, Document 138.