The Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) will stay in Somalia despite the end of the African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) program.
Uganda alongside other countries that include Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Burundi has been enforcing peace in Somalia under the UN-backed AMISOM program since 2007.
However, the UN-mandated AMISOM program effectively ended on December 21, 2021, although an agreement was reached for the program to be extended up to March 15, 2022.
UPDF spokesperson, Brig Felix Kulayigye, says that the army will stay under the new mandate of the African Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS).
UPDF has over 6,000 soldiers serving under AMISOM. Kulayigye adds that although there will be a scaling down the forces, the decision on how many numbers to keep in Somalia or send there on a rotational basis will be determined after the official ending of the AMISOM program.
For 14 years, foreign troops have been enforcing peace in Somalia. The forces are praised for holding back al-Shabaab insurgents that had taken over the country. The AMISOM armies have liberated key townships and historical areas like Kismayu, Red Seas mosque as well rebuilding Somalia institutions that have now helped the temporary governments operate somehow independently.
UPDF soldiers in Somalia are currently under the command of Brig Keith Katungi who replaced Brigadier Don Nabasa in December last year. Katungi was commander of UPDF military police while Nabasa was commander of Special Forces Command (SFC) before going to Somalia.
The Somali forces comprised of military and police are estimated to be over 13,000 and well equipped to handle their own security. But the African Union has consistently warned against the sudden withdrawal of foreign forces in Somalia as this could end up plunging the country back into full control by al-Shabaab.
However, donor countries majorly UN Security council permanent states like US, China, Russia, France, and the UK including a large section of Somalia authorities believe AMISOM’s value has waned.