Uganda & Burundi sends 3,000 more to somalia.

Halkaan ka akhri

UGANDA and Burundi are to deploy 3,000 extra troops to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to bolster the fight against Islamic insurgents.

“In a joint statement to field commanders in the war-torn country, Uganda’s army chief Gen. Aronda Nyakairima and his Burundian counterpart Maj. Gen. Godefroid Niyombare declared that the troops were already heading for training before deployment.

The two army chiefs issued the statement after concluding a working visit to Mogadishu.

The UN Security Council in December authorised the deployment of 4,000 more soldiers to Somalia to boost the number of peacekeepers supporting the transitional government in the country against al-Qaeda-inspired rebels from 8,000 to 12,000.

The council also extended the mandate of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to September 30. It said the increase in soldiers would enhance AMISOM’s ability to stabilise the country.

The UN-backed Transitional Federal Government of President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed controls part of the capital. It has been facing a four-year-old rebellion, led by the al-Shabaab rebel group, which professes loyalty to al-Qaeda.

Each country had pledged more 2,000 troops and anticipate deployment around the middle of the year. Burundi deployed 1,000 of the 4,000 extra troops in mid-March.

UPDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Felix Kulayigye yesterday said: “Uganda pledged 2,000 troops and they are undergoing training. This is meant to bridge the gap left by the failure of other countries to send in troops.”

The transitional government is seen by the international community as the best hope of returning the Horn of Africa country to stability after two decades of conflict.

Reuters yesterday quoted AMISOM as saying it now had over half of Mogadishu under its control.

“We are making steady but consistent progress. We now have 60% territorial control as a result of the recently implemented offensive and we will continue to build on this,” AMISOM said, adding that integration of government soldiers into its units was also going well.

In December last year, a Somali minister said more AMISOM troops would be used to expand control across the country.

Ugandan troops make up most of the about 9,000 strong force, helping the Somali Transitional Federal Government in battling the Islamist insurgents.

Somalia’s information, posts and telecommunications minister Abdulkareem Hassan Jama recently called the AMISOM presence “critical.”

He noted that the AU, Somali army and transitional government forces controlled 55% of Mogadishu, where over 70% of Somalis live.

Hassan, however, added that there were “vast ghost zones” in the areas controlled by the al-Shabaab.

UN Secretary General Ban ki-moon also requested for continued logistical support, including public information support and technical assistance to AMISOM.

Source: New Vision

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