Kampala — At least 1,000 UPDF soldiers will leave next month for Somalia to replace one battalion which is coming home after one year of keeping peace in the war-torn Somali.
The new contingent of peacekeepers are undergoing final drills for the mission at Singo Training School. At least 45 Ugandan soldiers have been killed in Somalia since the start of the UN-funded African Union Peacekeeping Mission code-named Amisom.
Uganda and Burundi are the only contributors to the force so far, in what is possibly Africa's most complex conflict in a country that has not had a central government for more than two decades. The forthcoming deployment follows another battalion that was sent to the war-tone country in February.
Defence and army spokesperson, Lt. Col Felix Kulayigye told Daily Monitor yesterday that the Ugandan peacekeepers will leave in early April. "They will leave to replace those who are coming back," Lt. Col.Kulayiygye said.
The mission was last year marred by delays in the payments of allowances which resulted into a mutiny by the Burundian forces. However, Lt. Col. Kulayigye said the four-month arrears were cleared in December last year. "The arrears were cleared up to December. What is remaining is January and February," he said. After the mutiny, 33 Burundian soldiers were arrested and charged with disobedience of orders of their superiors and taking arms from armourer without permission.
Uganda and Burundi deployed about 5,000 soldiers in Mogadishu to support the Transitional government of President Sheikh Sherif Ahmed. However, Somali Islamist fundamentalists, the al-Shabaab have consistently attacked the peacekeepers and described them as an occupational force. Meanwhile, on Saturday, Daud Ali Hassan, a senior commander of al-Shabaab was killed by raising concern that the insurgents could soon retaliate.