Uganda has decided to pull out of all its international peacekeeping missions in DR Congo, Somalia and Central African Republic (CAR).
The "irreversible" decision comes a few weeks after a UN leaked report accused Uganda and its neighbour Rwanda of supporting and financing the M23 rebels in DR Congo. Both countries have categorically denied the allegations, more so Uganda.
Security minister Muruli Mukasa said at the Media Centre on Friday: "We have proposed to the United Nations that we want to withdraw our forces from the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Somalia in order to concentrate on our own security."
The explanation of concentrating on own security is obviously to put it diplomatically as another minister, Asuman Kiyingi, had already been quoted in an interview with BBC that Uganda would withdraw from these missions in retaliation over the report.
Indeed the minister later added: "Why do people want to tarnish our name? After all the sacrifices we have made to help our neighbours and ensure there is stability in the region. Therefore, let us watch our country and make sure there is enough security... Whoever wants to cause us trouble will have to find us in our country."
Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi yesterday told Parliament that Uganda would withdraw her troops from international duties because her peacekeeping and stabilisation efforts had not been recognised but rather questioned by the UN report.
According to Lt. Gen. Katumba Wamala, the UPDF land forces commander, Uganda has since 2007 contributed at least 6,332 soldiers to the UN and African Union-backed peace mission in Somalia to combat al-Shabab insurgents. Relative peace has since been restored in the country. When the Ugandans arrived in 2007, they were only in control of a few blocks in Mogadishu but today most of the urban areas in Somalia are in government hands thanks to the effort.
As for the Central African Republic, the UPDF backed by the United States went into the country in pursuit against the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) who fled there after being defeated in northern Uganda. Eventually, a UN-backed force including Uganda and other regional armies was created to continue the pursuit and eliminate the LRA threat.