The Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) of the Uganda Army, General Edward Katumba Wamala, on Saturday visited Ugandan peacekeepers in the seaport town of Barawe which is 220 kilometres south of the capital Mogadishu.
Gen. Wamala is in Somalia for a four day official visit, during which he will also visit and interact with troops in Ceeljaale, Aribska and Mogadishu, as well as hold talks with the senior leadership of the Federal Government of Somalia.
Gen. Wamala arrived in Somalia from Uganda on Saturday morning and was received by the Deputy AMISOM Force Commander Maj. Gen. Nakibus Lakara; Uganda’s Defence Advisor to Somalia Brig. Sam Kiwanuka, and the Uganda Contingent Commander Brig. Gen. Sam Kavuma.
In Barawe, he addressed he thanked the Ugandan troops for sacrificing their lives to bring peace to Somalia, saying, “This was one of the strongest points of the Al-Shabaab and AMISOM, under the guidance of UPDF, took it over and so I came to see how the troops are doing and how the situation is changing. I am highly impressed by the way the troops are conducting themselves; how they are working with the civilian population here, the Governor; the Mayor and everybody and that is very good and I think the population’s life will change. Yes there are still a lot of challenges but I think the situation is much better.”
Gen. Wamala further noted that the gains made in Somalia needed to be safeguarded, given the sacrifices made to restore order in the once war torn country.
“Bringing peace to this country has been one of the biggest challenges the world has faced and we are happy to be contributing to that; to the peace coming back to this country. So I have also encouraged the local population leadership to continue working with us and take charge of the situation because at the end of the day this is their country. We can only do so much. The rebuilding of their nation lies in their hands,” he emphasized.
The Ugandan Chief of Defence Forces also briefed the troops on the prevailing political situation back home, reiterating Uganda’s commitment to fighting terrorism and ensuring regional peace and stability.
“Right now the politicians have started their usual politicking. We have said it is okay. You go on with those issues of your politics; talk about them but one thing that you should not tamper with is to disturb peace and security. That you should not touch. Do not touch that. You can insult yourselves but do not tamper with peace and issues of the UPDF in your matters of politicking,” he told the peacekeepers in Kiswahili.
The Ugandan troops were also addressed by the Governor Lower Shabelle Abdulkadir Mohamed Sidi who praised the UPDF for their good conduct and excellent relations with civilians in the seaport town.
“We are very happy. We have never seen an army like the UPDF. They are very smart, the cooperate with the community and they relate with the community well. They respect elders, Lower Shabelle Administration and the community”, said Governor Sidi.
Uganda is one of the troop contributing countries (TCCs) under AMISOM and was the first country to volunteer its troops to the peacekeeping mission when it was formed in 2007.