The government of Uganda is set to pull its troops from Somalia in December next year.
Commander of Defence Forces (CDF) Gen Katumba Wamala on Wednesday said the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) has done enough in Somalia and now is the time to return home.
“Somalia was nothing when the UPDF went there. We brought relative peace; laid foundation and even started building the country from scratch. Now is their turn to start from where we will be leaving,” he said.
There have been widespread criticisms against government over its decision to send soldiers to fight in other countries thus burdening the tax payers back home.
However, analysts say the withdraw from Somalia could have been as a result of a European Union decision to cut funding to AMISOM by 20% in order to rebalance its security commitments towards the Economic Community of West African States and the Multinational Joint Task Force in Nigeria, in addition to calling on African Union members to increase their contributions.
The AU is unlikely to increase expenditure amid the budgetary constraints of its member states, and UPDF officials have expressed concern that poor morale is undermining operational effectiveness.
Army spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Paddy Ankunda, recently rotated 1,800-strong Battle Group 15 (of 6,300 troops currently deployed), claimed on 25 April that troops had faced wage payment delays of up to four months.
General Katumba Wamala’s remarks come just days after UPDF said it would be pulling out of Central African Republic (CAF).
On June 11, Ankunda said Uganda is set to pull its troops out of the restive Central African Republic, deeming the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) to be “no longer a threat”.
“Uganda has met its goal in the fighting against LRA,” Ankunda said.
“The LRA has been degraded, they no longer have means to make war,” he said, adding however that another reason behind Kampala’s thinking was that “international support has not been enough”.
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.
There are another 10,000 UN troops in the country.