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Ugandan troops to Leave This Year
By Frank Nyakairu
Kampala, 12 May 2007UGANDAN - troops in Somalia are planning to pull out in four months' time to pave way for a UN-led force to take control of security in the war-torn Horn of Africa country.
Defence Minister Crispus Kiyonga told Daily Monitor that Uganda is now following the AU peacekeeping time table. This appears contrary to President Yoweri Museveni's position that the UPDF's mission in somali would be open-ended.
Uganda is the only country that has sent 1500 troops to Somalia with five other African countries failing to fulfill their quotas to raise an 8,000 strong peacekeeping force.
UPDF deployed in Somalia in March and the six-month operation will end in September.
On March 23, while meeting the UN Chief for Technical Assistance Tuliamen Kalomoh, President Museveni said he wanted the UN to keep off the Somali crisis. UPDF Chief of Defence Forces, Aronda Nyakairima told journalists last month that Ugandan forces were determined "to go all the way until peace returns to Somalia."
But Ghana, Burundi, Nigeria, Mozambique, and Malawi failed to send troops to back up the Ugandan contingent stationed in the capital Mogadishu.
Dr Kiyonga said the AU has suffered funding problems of failing to pay the peacekeepers allowances.
"The Uganda government has been financing AU military operations in terms of food and medicine so far," he said. The spokesman of the AU Peace and Security Council Assane Ba told BBC yesterday they were expecting over Euros25m from
Withdrawal of UPDF troops would worsen peace efforts in Somali. Ethiopian forces form the bulk of troops in Somalia with government troops struggling to gain control and acceptability. Unless Un troops move in fast, the situation is likely to deteriorate further.
Apart from deployment of a UN force, UPDF troops had started winning the confidence of Somali warlords. Most evident was last week's surrender of arms by Somali warlords to the UPDF. Disrupting such development may throw the country back into turmoil from which it is struggling to pull out.
Clashes between Somali Islamists and a combined force of Ethiopian troops and Transitional Federal Government forces have claimed over 1,500 lives this year. Eritrea, one of Somalia's neighbours and Ethiopia's foe, is opposed to UPDF deployment Somalia. The UN Security Council passed resolution 1744 in February authorising AU member states to establish a peacekeeping force for Somalia for a period of six months.
Source: The Monitor