New Vision (Kampala)

Uganda: Amisom Needs More Time in Somalia - Katumba

The mandate that authorizes AMISOM forces to stay in Somalia should be extended to enable the young country recover from over 20 years of war, General Katumba Wamala, the Uganda Chief of Land Forces (CLF) has said.

The current mandate by both the United Nations and the African Union (AU) is set to end in March 2013, barely two months from now.

"Somalia is like a baby that is still suckling. She needs all the support from the rest of the world," Katumba said recently in Somalia, where he is currently on the on-spot assesment of the peace operations. Uganda is the leading contributor to the military and police components of the mission.

The AMISOM mission is supported by mainly the United Nations, the European Union and the African Union. "The capacity for Somalia to stand on its own and survive as a country are not yet in place, irrespective of the efforts the world has been putting in," Katumba said. He explained that in the last few years, tremendous steps have been taken in trying to revive the country, but more support is still needed.

Since 1991, there have been over 10 efforts to bring peace to Somalia. However, the current effort seems to be the most promising so far. "You can see humanity returning across Somalia. The airport now receives over 40 flights a day, most of which are bringing in people to permanently settle back here. The seaport has over 15 ships lining up to dock every day," Katumba observed.

Last November, the mandate was only extended for just four months irrespective of calls by various regional leaders to have a longer extension of the mandate.

General Katumba has been meeting commanders and men at force headquarters, on top of visiting the frontline to morale boost the soldiers. "Yes, one of my purposes of coming here is to morale boost our soldiers and thank them for a job well done," he said.

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