Rwanda trains Somali soldiers

The Rwandan government has finalized training of Somali troops that will help serve in returning peace to that war ravaged state, APA learns here Tuesday.


According to the spokesperson of the Rwanda Defense Forces, Major Jill Rutaremara, the newly trained Somali military personnel are ready for deployment.


“It is true that we have just concluded training the Somali troops that we received as part of our effort in ensuring that the war ravaged country returns to peace,” he said.


He told APA on Tuesday that this contingent will back up the national army that is supporting the transitional government to end conflict.


“We are waiting for transport/logistics to make sure that these Somali troops still camping in Kigali are airlifted to their motherland,” Rutaremara said.


He said the soldiers are ready to be dispatched as soon as the transport means are availed.


The RDF spokesperson, however, was cagey to divulge the number of Somali troops trained in Rwanda, saying, “the issue of numbers is still exclusive information for the army”.


However, military sources say Kigali has trained quite a substantive number ; about two battalions of over 1,000 troops.


The announcement comes at a time when the Ethiopian troops in Somalia have increasingly become unpopular, despite Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s acknowledgment that his troops cannot withdraw under the circumstances.


Mr. Meles said while he had expected to withdraw his soldiers earlier in the year, after Islamists had been driven out of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, but that divisions within the Somali government had left it unable to replace the Ethiopians, while not enough African Union peacekeepers had arrived to replace them.


About 60% of Mogadishu residents have fled clashes in the city, the UN says.


The Ethiopians intervened a year ago to oust the Union of Islamic Courts, which had taken control of much of southern Somalia. Their presence, however, is unpopular in Mogadishu and earlier this month ; insurgents dragged the bodies of Ethiopian troops through the city.


Meanwhile, Rwanda is optimistic that the new Somali contingent from Kigali would add some strength to the country’s military muscle hence changing the situation, at least for the better.


Source: APA News, November 28, 2007
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