UPDF to downsize Somalia force as UN, AU change its mandate
The United Nations Security Council together with the Africa Union Peace and Security Committee have reformed the African Union Mission in Somalia [Amisom] to African Transition mission in Somalia [At-MIS].
The Spokesperson of Uganda Peoples Defence Forces, Brigadier Felix Kulaigye explains that AMISOM was created in 2007 to support the fragile government in Somalia and suppress the deadly Al-Shabaab Terrorists.
Speaking to this reporter in an exclusive interview, Brigadier Kulaigye further reported that, Uganda People’s Defence Forces [UPDF] was the Pioneer Force in Amisom and were later joined by troops from Burundi, Eritrea and Kenya among others.
Their main role then was among others to secure Mogadishu and protect the people of Somalia.
By that time, the entire country was in the then Somali Federal Government was operating from neighbouring Kenya.
Kulaigye says, the situation in Somalia has since changed drastically. ” The capital Mogadishu which was a No Go Area is today a centre of attraction.
All government ministries and agencies that had relocated to Nairobi and Kampala are now back in Somalia”, says Brigadier Kulaigye who quickly attributed this to the selfless contributions of UPDF soldiers. “If you go to Mogadishu today you will not believe that the country was ever a No Go Area. The Capital Mogadishu is a beehive of activities.
UPDF Deputy Chief of Defence Forces General Peter Elwelu who once commanded the UPDF troops in Somalia says, Somalia today is far different from the Somalia we found in 2007.
“I am glad that I contributed towards the rebuilding of Somalia and I thank God that I went there and returned safely” says General Peter Elwelu.
The African Union Commissioner for Political Affairs, Mr. Banko Adeoye explains that the change of mandate does not mean withdrawal from the mission. He says, all troop contributing countries, Uganda inclusive will retain their soldiers albeit in reduced numbers.
According to Banko Adeoye, the mandate of Amisom which has been to secure Somalia from the hands of Al-Shabaab and restore law and order ends on Marc 31st 2022 in accordance to the United Nations resolution. This therefore means the foreign troops will begin operating on a new mandate running up to 2025.
According to Brigadier Kulaigye, the new mandate referred to as African Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS] will among others concentrate on rebuilding a new National Security for Somalia. “We are going to focus on a gradual transferring of national security to the federal Government of Somalia Citizens.
This will involve training, mentoring and counseling programs among others. ATMIS will also engage on a series of civic military co-operation projects in a campaign to win the hearts of the community by addressing basic needs of the people such as health, education and Job creation.
A release by the Somali Presidential Press Unit States that during a recent meeting attended by Senior African Union delegates, state house staff and top federal Government of Somalia officials, members agreed that all efforts should now focus on rebuilding ground and air forces, the intelligence and security related institutions in preparation for their takeover of the country’s overall security.
The statement added that all members unanimously agreed to put aside past differences and divergent positions and resolved to work together on the transition agenda.
African Union Commissioner for Political Affairs is quoted to have said that “ATMIS” will be different from “AMISOM” because although it will retain combat active troops, it will also have a significant team of technocrats to draw up the country’s recovery plan from years of war.
On his part, Somalia President Mohammed Farmajo admitted that extremism remains a challenge in Somalia adding all efforts to eradicate the vice are welcome.
The President noted with satisfaction that, the transition mission will create more opportunities for Somali’s revival. “I can assure the country that the transition mission” [At MIS]” will offer additional ways for us to upgrade our forces, be the military, the police the intelligence and all institutions to enable us assume full responsibility of the country and the national security.
All said and done, the people of Somalia need peace like any other human being and according to Brigadier Felix Kulaigye, Peace in Somalia means peace in Uganda.
He recalled the 2011 incident when a group of Al Shabaab Terrorists from Somalia attacked Uganda killing several innocent citizens at Lugogo Rugby club ‘we must join hands to ensure peace in Mogadishu.” concluded Kulaigye.
The author, is a Journalist and has been to Somalia many times to cover the war.