UPDF Land Forces Commander, Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba spent five days in Somalia, where he visited Ugandan soldiers serving in the country’s longest war.
Uganda deployed soldiers in Somalia in March 2007, ousting the Al Qaeda-linked Al Shabaab militants from their strongholds in the capital Mogadishu, paving way for the restoration of stability in the war-torn country.
On Sept. 23, 2021, Muhoozi flew to Mogadishu, where he visited UPDF troops in Sector I of AMISOM.
Two days later, Al Shabaab carried out a terrorist attack in Mogadishu, targeting a convoy en route to the presidential palace. Seven people were killed and nine others injured in the explosion.
On the same day, the Al Shabaab also detonated a bomb near the military headquarters, the latest sign of instability in an African nation battling persistent economic hardship and endless political squabbles under a fragile government.
Muhoozi, who was welcomed by UPDF Contingent Commander, Maj Gen Don Nabaasa, thanked Ugandan soldiers for their “excellent work” in Somalia despite attacks by Al Shabaab.
UPDF troops serving under AMISOM are in charge of sector 1, which includes the Lower Shabelle region of Somalia and Mogadishu, and houses the headquarters of AMISOM and international partners.
Muhoozi visited Ugandan troops also to check on their preparedness as the country prepares to hold elections for the Upper and Lower Houses of the People as well as the President of Somalia, to be held later this year.
Successful elections will constitute a solid foundation for ongoing efforts towards democratization, peace and political stability in the country.
Al-Shabab continues terrorist attacks and insurgent operations, including by encircling communities and intimidating local elders, urging them to refrain from participating in the election.
Parliamentary and presidential elections have been repeatedly delayed since February over endless disputes between the government and opposition.
In late April, clashes between forces loyal to President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo —who sought to remain in office beyond his term — and the opposition, threatened to thrust the country into another cycle of civil war. An agreement was reached on May 27 and the country began moving toward elections.
More so, the escalating dispute between the President and Prime Minister also threatens to undermine Somalia’s stability and derail the electoral process.
President Museveni recently threatened to pull UPDF troops from Somalia over the endless political wrangling among the country’s political elite, raising the prospect of Al shabaab returning to Mogadishu just like the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Museveni said Somalia is beset by infighting between its leaders, a situation he described as “political AIDS” and warned it’s high time Somalia raised enough military forces to secure the country.
There have been fears over the ability of Somali troops to provide security when the Ugandan-led AMISOM forces exit the country.
Muhoozi’s tour ended yesterday (Monday) with a meeting with the Prime Minister of Somalia, Mohamed Hussein Roble in the restive city of Mogadishu.
In 2011, Muhoozi planned and supervised the entry of Special Forces into the UPDF campaign in Somalia, as part of the AMISOM mission.
Within a few weeks of the entry of Special Forces into Somalia, the UPDF successfully expelled Al Shabaab from Mogadishu.
In 2019, Uganda’s Deputy Ambassador to Somalia, Rtd Major General Nathan Mugisha told ChimpReports that Somalia’s problems could be resolved politically.
“The problem of Somalia is not security,” said Mugisha, “insecurity is a consequence of the failed political line of operation.”
He said the central government and federal states needed to resolve their political differences amicably to pave way for the pacification of the war-torn country.