Idi achieved power by taking over the government while his predecessor was in Singapore on a diplomatic mission. After he achieved power, he put his friends and trusted officials into command positions. He also stopped requiring men enlisting in the army to have an education so the army enlarged with young, uneducated soldiers. The army also started accepting foreigners so that by the time 1979 came around about 75% of the army was not from Uganda. This really made communication and discipline hard because of all the different ethnicities and languages. Some of these armies were not even controlled by the government. Idi created his version of the secret police in the State Research Bureau (SRB) and the Public Safety Unit (PSU). These groups did the ratting and the killing. They even turned over the people they were supposed to be protecting. They were responsible for 250,000 deaths. Even so much as a rumor of criticizing the government or Amin resulted in the SRB or PSU executing the condemned.

When Idi kicked out the Asian population things really went bad. The economy was halted for the most part, and social services, such as the road system and water systems, stopped working because people ran away, hid, or were killed. In 1978, Idi started taking out some of his army officials. This lowered the amount of people that had stayed loyal to Idi. Different army factions fighting for influence in the country added to the chaos. Idi tried to appease them by giving them Tanzanian land, however it failed miserably.

This was essentially a dictatorship. Idi surrounded himself with yes-men. If you did not say yes, to what he said and did, you would be killed. Those who fell out of favor with Idi were also executed. He ruled through the Army. He was the supreme commander and all the generals were supposed to do what he told them. They in turn did most of the killing. The PSU and the SRB were also his tools. They were some of the top agencies. He had "councilors", but he did not listen to them much. If he did maybe, this tyranny never would have happened. Maybe it would just have been an average coup.

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