THE Chief of Defence Forces, Gen. Nyakairima Aronda, is in Ethiopia preparing for the arrival of the UPDF contingent to neighbouring Somalia this week.
â€œOur troops are due in Somalia anytime, â€ said the defence ministry spokesman, Maj. Felix Kulayigye, yesterday.
Kenyaâ€™s media yesterday reported that Ugandaâ€™s military tanks and personnel carriers reached the sea port of Mombasa on Saturday on their way to Somalia for a peacekeeping mission.
The tanks arrived by train at the Kenyan port, from where they were to be shipped to the war-ravaged horn of Africa state.
â€œThe troops will be flown to Somalia this week,â€ Kulayigye revealed.
Ugandaâ€™s contingent of 1,605 soldiers is led by Col. Peter Elwelu.
Speaking from Addis Ababa, Aronda said there were yet no Ugandan soldiers on Somali territory as the international press had reported. He revealed that the Commander of the Land forces, Lt. Gen. Katumba Wamala, was to oversee preparations for airlifting the troops to Somalia.
Uganda is the first African country to dispatch peacekeeping soldiers to Somalia, which has not known peace since former President Siad Barre was overthrown 17 years ago.
Nigeria, Ghana, Mali, South Africa and Burundi are the other countries that have volunteered soldiers to save the National Transitional Government of President Abdullahi Yusuf.
But the Burundi government said on Friday that its soldiers lack suitable resources for the task in Somalia.
Burundi is scheduled to deploy some 1,700 servicemen as part of an African Union mission to Somalia.
Burundiâ€™s defence minister Germain Niyoyankana said his troops needed personal and team equipment â€œand means of extraction in case of emergencyâ€.
He was speaking to the press together with General William Ward, the US deputy commander for Europe, who held talks with Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza.
General Ward said the US would do its best to satisfy Burundiâ€™s requirements for the Somali mission.
Mortar attacks in the Somali capital Mogadishu injured seven people on Friday, part of a series of rebel offensives ahead of the deployment of African Union peacekeepers there.
A shell also hit the seaport in southern Mogadishu, which is awaiting the arrival of Ugandan troops as the first contingent of the AU mission.
The deployment of 8,000 peacekeepers is aimed at helping the interim government overcome insurgents who have carried out daily attacks in the city.
Gen. Aronda flies to Ethiopia