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The East African : June 2nd 2014
The EastAfrican NEWS MAY 31 - JUNE 6, 2014 UPDF FAMILIAR WITH TERRAIN 13 The African-led International Support Mission to the Central African Republic patrol a street in Bangui. Picture: File Uganda waits for UN advice on troops in CAR The count≥y al≥eady has about 400 t≥oops the≥e pu≥suing Kony By BARBARA AMONG Special Corespondent Nations to have its troops in the Central African Republic co-opted into the UN force by September, with an additional 800 soldiers ready for dispatch, officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the army said. Chief of Defence Forc- K es Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala said deploying the Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces in CAR under the UN would reduce the expenses Uganda is incurring to maintain its troops hunting down the Lord’s Resistance Army there. According to the army, Uganda would still remain focused on fighting and looking for LRA rebels, in addition to helping the UN mission to stabilise CAR. “UPDF has been there even without the UN hat. The UN hat would possibly bring easier logistical support, which would enable us do our operation faster,” said Gen Wamala. Uganda is also campaign- ing to head the mission, pointing out that it has the combat experience in CAR. “Our troops already have an edge over most of the troops there because they have been there for years and know the terrain and operational challenges on the ground. We have already participated, though not directly under the UN, in peacekeeping when the Muslim and Christian communities were attacking each other in Obo. Helping and working with the people of CAR is not a problem, we have al- ampala is in final discussions with the United ready done it anyway.” In April, the UN Security Council approved deployment of an expanded peacekeeping force of 11,800 to replace the 6,500 African peacekeeping forces and about 2,000 French troops that have been operating in CAR. The European Union is also planning to deploy up to 1,000 troops. Starting September 15, the force will initially comprise up to 10,000 military personnel, 240 military observers, 200 staff officers and 1,800 police personnel, according to the UN. Foreign Affairs spokesperson Fred Opolot said Kampala is only waiting for a final decision from the UN following several discussions held with Uganda. If approved, the planned deployment will see the Ugandan army now participating in combat operations and peacekeeping missions in four countries in the region. Uganda is already participating in ending the war in CAR under the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises mechanism; it has about 400 soldiers IN THE FIELD Uganda has about 8,000 troops with Amisom peacekeeping mission in Somalia, about 4,500 in South Sudan and an estimated 3,000 in DR Congo. Uganda withdrew from the DR Congo in 2010 but a contingent of about 3,000 was left to continue with the hunt for the LRA’s top commanders. Also, a number of soldiers were later deployed in the CAR to pursue the LRA. pursuing LRA leader Joseph Kony and playing a part in mainthe taining peace in the country. Uganda is reducing its troops in Somalia and South Sudan, following pressure from the international community and regional countries to pull out from the latter country. The CAR mission would absorb highly skilled combat ready soldiers who have been part of the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia. It is understood that Ugan- da’s request has been backed by several African countries and others like South Africa are ready to contribute troops to fight alongside the Ugandan army. South Africa, which went into CAR immediately war broke out between the government and the Seleka rebels in 2012, but quickly withdrew after suffering humiliating defeats at the hands of the rebels, has said it will provide Uganda with funding, military and logistical equipment. Lt Col Paddy Ankunda said Uganda could perform both peacekeeping and combat operations in CAR. The combat operation would be mainly against the LRA. The implication of all these deployments for the army’s overall strength is not clear. Uganda is one of the few African countries with a rapid response force and President Yoweri Museveni said last year that his government would continue building the strength of the army to be able to provide rapid response across the continent. Discussion about Uganda’s deployment in CAR started in 2012 when President François Bozize approached Kampala to provide troops to protect his government against the Seleka rebels.
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