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Lawless Somalia will keep Karamoja armed

By Vision Reporter

Added 15th March 2007 03:00 AM

UNLESS the supply of light arms to Uganda from Somalia is stopped, the problem of cattle rustling will not leave East Africa. It will mean that the ongoing disarmament exercise will also continue forever, as the gunmen disarmed yesterday would easily acquire new weapons the following morning.

UNLESS the supply of light arms to Uganda from Somalia is stopped, the problem of cattle rustling will not leave East Africa. It will mean that the ongoing disarmament exercise will also continue forever, as the gunmen disarmed yesterday would easily acquire new weapons the following morning.

By Maj. Felix Kulayigye

UNLESS the supply of light arms to Uganda from Somalia is stopped, the problem of cattle rustling will not leave East Africa. It will mean that the ongoing disarmament exercise will also continue forever, as the gunmen disarmed yesterday would easily acquire new weapons the following morning.

Therefore, questions as to why Uganda had to send troops to Somalia when Kony is still killing are misguided. The proliferation of small arms is one of the reasons why the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) went into Somalia to help restore law and order.

Siad Barre went with peace

President Siad Barre was not perfect, but many Somalis wonder whether they did not jump out of the frying pan and into the fire when that dictator was overthrown nearly 20 years ago. Somalis lost every right and all the peace. But the neighbours too have paid the price in form of refugees, some armed.

Fears that our soldiers may die in Somalia are partly a result of the memories of US troops murdered there in 1993. But we should also remember the images of starvation, including one in which a patient vulture waited to eat a dying Somali baby and its mother.

UPDF’s peace missions

The American expedition was replaced by the UN Mission to Somalia, in which our army was to play a part. Our troops were to be commanded by then Col. Edward Wamala Katumba. Here was another opportunity to prove our worth in international operations. Our army had completed a successful mission in Liberia under the command of then Brig. Ivan Koreta and Lt. Col. Levi Karuhanga.

We do not remember any opposition to the Liberia and Somalia missions at the time. Yet our army was less equipped for such tasks than today.
One of the reasons some Ugandans are opposed to the current deployment of UPDF troops in Somalia is that it seems to lack the direct backing of the super powers, especially the US. However, the US is involved, though from behind-the-scenes.

Some of the politicians who are questioning the logic in going to Somalia before routing Kony were in top government positions when we went to Liberia, prepared for Somalia and then patrolled the DR Congo to neutralise rebels based there. Has these politicians’ departure from government made Kony more dangerous than he was when we went to Liberia?

Brothers since Muteesa I

Somalis are not foreigners as some people have put it. The Somali community is vibrant here and Somalis hold positions of responsibility in various aspects. An example is Kabaka Ronald Mutebi’s Deputy Treasurer, Owekitiibwa Umar Mandela. Mandela’s contribution to the development of sports is not disputable. In entrusting Mandela with Buganda’s finances, Kabaka Mutebi echoed his ancestors’ foresightedness. His ancestors made friends with Somalis.

Lord Frederick Lugard wrote that his entry into Uganda would have been more difficult were it not for the services of his chief scout, a Somali named Doualla. Doualla and other Somalis played a key role in Lugard’s wars with forces opposed to the British rule. Baganda commanders like Sir Apollo Kaggwa and Stanislaus Mugwanya enjoyed fighting the formidable Omukama Kabalega alongside Somalis.

Plundering abroad?

Talk of UPDF going abroad to plunder and return with foreigners as wives is baseless.

First, plundering is an offence that can be dealt with administratively. Even if it was true that there was plundering in the DR Congo, we should remember that the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebel group was neutralised. The ADF is responsible for the Kichwamba massacre of nearly 100 students.

Importing wives

We do not go on foreign missions to get wives but to make friends. The law does not permit our young soldiers to marry until they have served for a certain number of years and have attained the age of 22. U

nmarried comrades form the bulk of the army and some of them could later become ‘ambassadors’ to those countries as in-laws. Moreover, a married soldier would not get another woman as a wife just because he is on duty outside Uganda. I was among the thousands of soldiers who served in the DR Congo but did not return with wives. Bigamy is a crime.

In Somalia for our sake

Unless the gun corridor is sealed, there will never be a permanent solution to the Karamoja problem. The only viable means of ending this menace is by ensuring that Somalia has an effective government. Neighbours have a responsibility to help.

The writer is the UPDF spokesman

Lawless Somalia will keep Karamoja armed

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