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Wednesday,August 05,2020 02:07 AM

UPDF changes Somalia troops

By Vision Reporter

Added 5th September 2009 03:00 AM

A contingent of Ugandan soldiers yesterday returned home from Somalia to give way for deployment of new ones for peacekeeping in the war-torn country.

A contingent of Ugandan soldiers yesterday returned home from Somalia to give way for deployment of new ones for peacekeeping in the war-torn country.

By Raymond Baguma

A contingent of Ugandan soldiers yesterday returned home from Somalia to give way for deployment of new ones for peacekeeping in the war-torn country.

The group is part of the 2,700 soldiers who have been in Mogadishu for nine months under the African Union Peacekeeping Mission in Somalia (AMISOM. All will be withdrawn and replaced with a similar number. The army explained that this was part of a routine rotational exercise to prevent battle fatigue.

The first contingent were flown into Entebbe air base yesterday afternoon by an Algerian airforce plane. On arrival they mounted a parade and handed over the Ugandan flag to minister of defence Dr. Crispus Kiyonga, who in turn handed it to the new group going to Somalia.

Present at the ceremony was the commander Land Forces, Lt. Gen. Katumba Wamala and the commander of the Air force, Maj. Gen. Jim Oweyesigire.

Kiyonga hailed the withdrawing troops for exercising discipline, and showing bravery, professionalism and African patriotism while they served in the war-torn Somalia.

“In deploying UPDF to Somalia, we are carrying out a revolutionary duty to free Africa of violent conflict,” Kiyonga remarked.

As part of the new deployment, UPDF’s Col. Nathan Mugisha now becomes the overall AMISOM force commander, taking over from the withdrawing Gen. Francis Okello. Also, Col. Tumusiime Katsigazi now becomes the commander of the Uganda contingent, taking over from Col. Jack Bakasumba.

Lt. Gen. Katumba Wamala said that the new contingent includes infantry battalions and will focus on capacity building by assisting the Somali Transitional Federal Government to re-organise and form the Somali national army from the militia groups.

He also said the security situation has improved in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, which is the area of control for the AU peacekeepers, who include UPDF and Burudian troops.

There are 4,300 AU peacekeepers in Somalia, to which Uganda contributes 2,700 soldiers. Uganda and Burundi are the only African countries with troops in war-torn Somalia.

Kiyonga said other African countries are supporting the troops politically and diplomatically. Also, Tanzania has offered to train 1,000 Somali troops as their contribution to the pacification of Somalia.

He also revealed the AU Summit of leaders has agreed to make AMISOM’s mandate more flexible, empowering the peacekeepers to carry out pre-emptive attacks on the militants in Somalia.

Since 2007 when the UPDF deployed to Somalia, 12 Ugandan peacekeepers have been killed. In April this year, a strange disease killed two Ugandan peacekeepers under UGABAG III and affected 17 others who were flown to Nairobi Hospital for treatment.

Dr. Kiyonga said the outbreak had been contained and a team of doctors from Uganda, Burundi and WHO had carried out examinations, but were yet to release findings of the disease outbreak.

UPDF changes Somalia troops

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