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Idi Amin’s Whereabouts Still Unknown

January 20, 1989 GMT

MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) _ Exiled Ugandan dictator Idi Amin has dropped out of sight since leaving his home in Saudi Arabia two weeks ago and may be hiding in Zaire, Arab diplomatic sources said Friday.

The sources said on condition of anonymity that they believed Amin still was in Kinshasa, the capital of Zaire. They had no information on reports that he left for the Saudi port of Jiddah on Wednesday.

″The report that Amin left Kinshasa has not been confirmed, and we believe he is still there... To the best of our knowledge, Amin has not returned to Jiddah,″ said an Arab diplomat reached by telephone in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

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The former Ugandan leader has lived in Saudi Arabia since his overthrow in 1979. Amin, 61, first arrived in Zaire Jan. 3 on a false passport. He was expelled on Jan. 12 to Dakar, Senegal. From there, he was expected to be returned to Saudi Arabia, but ended up on a flight back to Zaire.

The diplomat said Saudi officials were angry with Amin for leaving the country on forged travel documents and refused him re-entry into the country.

He said the former dictator long has been unpopular with his Saudi hosts for meddling in African politics and for his links with Ugandans opposed to the current government there.

In past telephone calls from Jiddah to The Associated Press bureau in Bahrain, Amin made it clear he hoped to recapture power with the help of supporters and relatives in Uganda.

Amin was ousted from his East African nation in April 1979 and was granted political asylum in Saudi Arabia in 1980 after the Libyan government of Col. Moammar Gadhafi refused to harbor him.

During eight years of tyranny, tens of thousands of Amin’s political opponents were killed, and newspaper reports alleged that he practiced cannibalism. The reports were never independently verified.

Saudi businessmen acquainted with Amin said they had no idea of his whereabouts but insisted he has not returned to Saudi Arabia.

″Even if he gets back to Saudi Arabia it will be quite a while before we and the Africans here know about it,″ said one Jiddah businessman who identified himself only as a close friend of the Amin family.

Saudi officials could not be reached for comment because of the Moslem Sabbath on Friday.

″Idi Amin’s whereabouts are becoming a mystery. ... Officials are tight- lipped, and there is no stir in the African community and Asian diplomatic circles here,″ said a Jiddah hotel manager who said Amin used to visit him regularly.

The hotel manager said Amin left Jiddah with one of his sons and that his second wife and 22 other children still were in their guarded villa halfway between Jiddah airport and the city.