Army says troops may leave Somalia in 2017


Ugandan contigent of AMISOM and Somali National Force army advance into Marka town in Somalia. PHOTO/UPDF

Uganda army commander says UPDF have completely withdrawn from South Sudan and are now moving out of Central African Republic [CAR].

Back in May, no decision had been taken to withdraw UPDF from Somalia, according to army spokesperson Lt Col Paddy Ankunda.

The possibility of pulling out the troops came after the European Union cut funding to the African Union Mission in Somalia [AMISOM] by 20 per cent.

In April, the Chief of Defence Forces, Gen Katumba Wamala, revealed that some battle groups serving under the contingent had gone at least four months without being paid allowances and salaries.

The soldiers monthly salaries had also been reduced from Shs3m to Shs2m.

The reduction of UPDF salaries sparked speculations that the national forces would soon leave the Horn of African nation and end their peacekeeping mission.

“On Somalia, if things don’t move in the direction we see, we will disengage by 2017,” Katumba said on Sunday while appearing on NTV Fourth Estate programme.

Uganda was the first country to deploy troops under AMISOM into Somalia in March 2007.

The first batch was commanded by the late Court Martial chairman Maj General, Levi Karuhanga.

UPDF now has over 6,000 soldiers and officers serving with AMISOM mission.

UPDF leaves CAR in October

Katumba also confirmed that UPDF will leave Central African Republic [CAR] by October 2016.

The army intends to give up pursuit of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels led by Joseph Kony.

The army said “international support has not been enough” and that Kony was no longer a threat to the country.

The chronically unstable Central African Republic was plunged into chaos in 2013 when mainly Muslim Seleka rebels ousted President Francois Bozize, triggering a spiral of revenge attacks between the rebels and mainly Christian vigilante groups that left thousands dead and displaced many more.

Around 2,000 Ugandan soldiers, backed by US troops, are currently deployed in eastern CAR as part of an African Union mission to tackle the LRA rebels.

The LRA first emerged in northern Uganda in the mid-1980s when it took up arms in the name of the Acholi ethnic group against the government of President Yoweri Museveni.

Over the years it has moved freely across porous regional borders, shifting from Uganda to sow terror in southern Sudan before heading into northeastern DR Congo in 2005, finally crossing into the southeastern Central African Republic in 2008.

The group has killed more than 100,000 people and kidnapped more than 60,000 children, forcing many of them to become child soldiers, according to the UN.

The LRA has been weakened by the capture or defection of a succession of its leading figures, most recently in February when one of its commanders, Okot Odek, was captured and handed over to US forces by a faction of the Seleka rebels in CAR.

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