The first Ugandan soldier died in the senseless violence of Somalia. He gave his life for his country and for Africa. His mission was an honourable one. He was sent to assist a neighbour in need. He took part in a well-intentioned operation to stabilise Somalia. He died performing his duty: protecti
Uganda is the only country so far that has headed the call for peacekeeping troops in Somalia. It is the only country in this formidable continent of over 50 states that kept its word and promptly deployed two battalions in the anarchic, war-stricken Horn of Africa nation.
Uganda did so because it wanted to stem the uncontrolled proliferation of arms and restore peace and security in the region, driven by a belief that it was time for â€˜African solutions to African problemsâ€™. Finally, after centuries of foreign interventions, Africans themselves would take charge of their own affairs.
Uganda has been let down miserably by its brothers in the African Union. Only half of the required 8,000 strong peacekeeping force has so far been pledged. Worse still, even the countries that promised to contribute troops are dragging their feet, leaving Ugandans in a precarious catch-22 situation.
The Ethiopians cannot withdraw before enough AU peacekeepers are in place. Yet, the continued presence of Ethiopian troops in Mogadishu is fuelling the conflict, considering the long-time hostility between the two countries. It would be like Sudanese troops fighting in the streets of Kampala.
It is high time the AU and its member states acted on the pompous declarations they ever so often make in their various summits and expeditiously deploy a credible force to save this latest and possibly final opportunity to pacify Somalia and the region.
Failure to act now will not only expose Ugandan peacekeepers to unacceptable risks but also condemn an entire population to prolonged suffering and death. Uganda cannot continue to bear the brunt of this mission alone. The AU must assume its responsibility.
Shame on AU!