Thursday, September 20, 2012
By Henry Mukasa
Ugandan soldier serving with the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), gather before Contingent Commander for Uganda, Brigadier Paul Lokech
The Somalia Government will honour the blood shed by Ugandans to restore relative peace prevailing in Somalia and has enabled the Horn of Africa nation restart the democratization process, after over two decades of conflict.
"The tree of freedom, democracy and sovereignty of Somalia thrives from the blood of Ugandans who pioneered in the Liberation of this country," Somali Parliament Speaker, Prof. Mohamed Osman Jawari stated.
"You are the soul of this country. Our Government and the people will never forget this fact and do pay tribute to the young boys and girls you sent here some of whom unfortunately lost their lives or got wounded," Jawari pointed out, adding that the sweat of gallant Ugandan soldiers will not be in vain.
Jawari made the remarks at a reception organized by Somali Government at State House on Tuesday to welcome the new Uganda contingent commander, Brig. Micheal Ondoga and to see off Brig. Paul Lokech.
Jawari paid tribute to Uganda which deployed UPDF first in Somalia in 2007 to constitute the peacekeeping force, dubbed the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), to pacify the country where extremists are fighting a bloody treacherous rebellion. For the selfless service to Somalia, Jawari noted, Ugandans and Somalis should never consider each other as strangers but rather one family.
On his part, the deputy Prime Minister, Hussein Arab Ise, observed that the recently concluded presidential elections on Somalia were a manifestation of the success story of AMISOM. He singled out UPDF for single handedly toiled in Somalia from 2007, "contained terrorism, the iniquitous activities of the warlords and bloody clan clashes."
"Uganda will remain in the Somali books of history and the only way we can thank the families of the Ugandans who shed their blood here is by ensuring we never go back to turmoil," Hussein who is also Somalia's minister of defense commented.
The ceremony was characterized by a colorful handover ceremony by the Uganda contingent commanders. The deputy Force commander, Maj. Gen. Karanga presided over the ceremony attended by several Somali dignitaries and security chiefs.
Uganda deployed 1,600 pioneer troops to AMISOM in 2007 at a time when the security situation in Mogadishu was very fluid. The force has since been joined by troops from Burundi, Djibouti, Kenya, and Sierra Leon. The police element of 17, 731 personnel is composed of service men from several African countries.
Magodishu, the capital city of Somalia, was liberated early this year and the forces have since March extended operations to all the regions of Somalia. As a result of relative calm in the country, a constitution was promulgated in August and elections of MPs, Speaker and the President were concluded by Early September. Somalia's Parliament last week elected Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as new President to replace interim leader, Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.