Skip to comments.Uganda: UPDF Already in War-Torn Somalia, Says Mbabazi
Posted on 11/15/2006 8:21:58 PM PST by Flavius
Ugandan soldiers have already deployed in the troubled nation of Somalia Inside Politics can for the first time confirm authoritatively. Theis was revealed by the Minister for Security Amama Mbabazi in an exclusive interview on Thursday November 9.
This is the first time that a senior government officer has admitted to the presence of the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) in Somalia, which had long been a subject of speculation.
"We are doing a job for IGAD- we face the same challenges. When IGAD took a decision to act we were given the job of protecting the Transitional Government and ensuring the training of their security forces. Commonsense commanded that we cooperate," he says.
IGAD stands for the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, a seven country regional organisation to which Uganda and Somalia belong. Its other members are Kenya, Sudan, Djibouti, Eritrea and Ethiopia.
" We are a member of IGAD and face the same challenges. Our job is not to take sides unless our troops are engaged. In that case they are entitled to defend themselves," the Minister added. Observers are warning of a regional war in Somalia where a weak Transitional Government holed up in the south central town of Baidoa is battling against the Union of Islamic Courts, a militia that controls most of the country.
The Associated Press recently reported that a United Nations report had warned of a wider conflict because several thousand Ethiopian and Eritrean troops were in Somalia on opposite sides. The Eritreans support the UIC, which has declared a holy war against Ethiopian forces.
Last week, the State Minister for Defence Ruth Nakabirwa reportedly said the government would first seek Parliamentary approval before deploying up to a battalion in Somalia. She also dismissed fears that a hostile UIC would not accept Ugandan troops, adding that of all the members of IGAD, only Sudan and Uganda would be acceptable to a majority of the people there.