First son and Special Forces Commander Maj Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba is currently in Somalia visiting Uganda People’s Defence Forces serving under African Union Mission in Somalia [AMISOM].
Muhoozi visited the troops in 2012 and 2014 to congratulate their commanders for participating in different battles that saw the liberation of several Somali towns.
Muhoozi’s UPDF Special Forces played a leading role in the capture of Barawe, Al-Shabaab’s financial centre and main headquarters.
The UPDF Special Forces have operated in Somalia since 2011 and participated in the decisive battles that liberated Mogadishu from the grip of the Al Shabaab that year.
On his August 2016 visit to Mogadishu, Muhoozi commended the Somali National Forces for making progress in fight against Al Shabaab.
“We need to ensure a safe election period for the people of Somalia in the coming polls,” he told the troops.
A successful electoral process will not only be a victory for Somalia but also the African Union and the international community, the Special Representative of the Chairperson of African Union Commission for Somalia (SRCC), Ambassador Francisco Madeira has said.
Ambassador Madeira noted that the political progress in Somalia was testament to what can be achieved through cooperation among members of the international community in tackling terrorism as a global threat and not an isolated problem in Somalia.
The head of AMISOM made the remarks at a media briefing held in Mogadishu, Wednesday which was also attended by the Deputy Special Representative of the Chairperson of African Union Commission for Somalia (DSRCC), Lydia Wanyoto; the AMISOM Force Commander, Lieutenant General Osman Noor Soubagleh and the AMISOM Deputy Police Commissioner, Christine Alalo.
The SRCC congratulated the Federal Government of Somalia, the regional leaders and the people of Somalia, for agreeing on the 2016 electoral process timetable.
He reiterated that AMISOM will work together with the Somali National Security Forces to ensure the process is successful.
“I would like to stress the commitment of the African Union to support the Federal Government of Somalia and work with the Somali National Security Forces in securing the forthcoming election, while providing the necessary technical support to the ongoing process. The African Union sent a pre-election assessment mission and after meeting the relevant bodies including the Federal Indirect Electoral Implementation Team (FIEIT), it has committed to provide training not only to members of FIET but also to all those who will be involved in the process, as well as providing observer teams for the elections,” stated Ambassador Madeira.
He, however, appealed to the Somali public to support the security forces in executing their mandate, noting that the security of the country was also the responsibility of the citizens.
“The country’s security does not lie with the security forces alone. Everyone has a role to play. The Somali citizens must own and lead this process,” the SRCC observed.
The SRCC stressed that efforts will be intensified to hunt down and defeat Al-Shabaab militants, adding that special focus will be on clearing main supply routes, to open up rural areas to enable residents move freely.
“Al-Shabaab militants have fled from the towns we have captured, hiding in the bushes, from where they continue to terrorize the Somali people, going about their normal lives in their communities. This time, we will not only capture territory but will also aim at disrupting, degrading and destroying Al-Shabaab terrorists and their fighting capacity. This is an approach that both AMISOM and the SNA (Somali National Army) have agreed to and it will be the main focus for our troops,” the head of AMISOM stressed.
The SRCC, however, noted that the lack of resources, specifically force enablers and multipliers, remain a big challenge in the efforts to stabilize Somalia.
“I take this opportunity to appeal to our partners to do their part, and provide the necessary support in a timely and responsive manner. The issue of force multipliers and enablers is something that has been discussed for years, with very limited progress. We are now appealing for action,” Ambassador Madeira said.
He said AMISOM troops have been able to achieve a lot despite the challenges faced, adding that the critical need for air assets in tackling Al-Shabaab should not be a subject of debate.
The leadership of AMISOM commended the good working relation between the African Union and the Federal Government of Somalia, which has enabled AMISOM execute its mandate.
Somalia is preparing to hold indirect elections before the end of the year. The exercise will culminate in the election of a new President who will lead the country for the next four years.