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Angry Museveni overhauls UPDF’s Somalia command

President Museveni has expressed his displeasure with the performance of Uganda’s African Union contingent in Somalia by announcing changes in the leadership of the team.

The changes will see Brig. Nathan Mugisha become the Force Commander of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Maj. Gen. Francis Okello has been recalled to the Army headquarters in Bombo. Mugisha has been promoted to Major General and will work with Col. Jack Bakasumba, Uganda’s contingent commander in Somalia.

Until June this year, Mugisha was Commandant of the Jinja-based Senior Command and Staff College Kimaka. He was replaced by Brig. Clovis Kalyebala, but in acting capacity. Kalyebala, once attached to the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, has now been confirmed as the deputy commandant of the Staff College although he will continue acting as the commandant.

We have been told that Maj. Gen. Levi Karuhanga, the first AMISOM commander, who was recalled to the headquarters some time last year, now becomes General Officer in charge of the Reserve Force. Another major appointment is that of Brig. Bernard Rwehururu as chairman of the General Court Martial. He replaces Lt. Gen. Ivan Koreta who will concentrate on his duties as deputy Chief of Defence Forces.

Since March 2008, Rwehururu has been Commandant of the Uganda Military Academy, Kabamba. Rwehururu will be replaced at Kabamba by Maj. Gen. Andrew Guti, a former army representative in Parliament.

Army Spokesman, Maj. Felix Kulayigye, said the changes were routine and that they are not related to the performance of the affected individuals.

“This is what we call ‘relief in line’. An officer serves, after some time another is called in, and it is normal,” he said. Nonetheless, the changes, especially in the peace-keeping contingent in Somalia, come amidst reports of growing attacks on Ugandan and other peace-keeping troops by insurgents in the lawless country.

There are also reports of Ugandan soldiers deserting the contingent. In fact, we have been told that Aronda Nyakairima, the Chief of Defence Forces, and some other Army officers, will travel to Somalia this week to make an on-spot evaluation of the situation.

Kulayigye confirmed this trip but was tightlipped about its details. Early last month, The Observer reported that five UPDF soldiers had been killed by insurgents linked to Al-Shabaab, a group that is fighting to depose the nascent government of Sheikh Sharif Ahmed––but the Army refuted the reports.

Uganda sent troops to Somalia in March 2007 to protect the transition government that replaced the Union of Islamic Courts who had been driven out of Mogadishu by US-backed Ethiopian troops.

Ethiopian troops pulled out last year, leaving the few thousand Ugandan and Burundian soldiers a direct target of the insurgents.

ekiggundu@observer.ug

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