Principle of African Solidarity: Somali Rebels Holding Ugandan Troops


On Saturday, 12th September 2015, the president of Uganda speculated that the Islamic extremists in Somalia may have held some Uganda troops hostage. According to the Tokyo Associate Press (AP), President Yoweri Museveni blamed his own commanders for slackness that allowed a recent attack on an African Union base on 1st September, 2015. Regrettably, he said that 19 soldiers were killed and six were missing as a result of the attack. The president made this statement during his visits in Tokyo to discuss Japan-Uganda ties.

However, in contradiction to President Yoweri Museveni’s statement on the number of Ugandan troop lost during the attack; the Al-Shabaab militant group, having claimed the responsibility for the September 1st attack on an African Union base in Somalia, has claimed killing 50 Ugandan Solders in Janale which is 65kilometers (40) miles southwest of the Somali capital of Mogadishu. Unfortunately, the Ugandan troops held by the militant group are part of an African Union Mission in Somalia. Nevertheless, the president has blamed his military commanders for slackness and suspended them. Affirmatively, he said that the suspended commanders will face a court marital very soon.

Although it has been addressed that the Al-Shabaab militant group remains a potent force, President Museveni argued that “they are bankrupt” and that “they are not strong.” He was optimistic that the militant group would be defeated soon. It could be recalled that Al-Shabaab militant group was pulled out of Mogadishu and other strongholds of the Somali land in recent times. However, they “still operate in some rural parts of the country and carry out deadly attacks,” AP reported.

Ugandan troops are known for their gallant performance in peacekeeping operations especially in the East Africa and ECCAS zones. The troops are also supporting the government of South Sudan, where a fragile peace deal with rebels was signed last month. In line with this, president Museveni being gripped with the principle of Africa solidarity, maintained that he would order his troops out of South Sudan once there is no more threat. Citing the disastrous incidents of refugees in the Middle East and Europe, he claimed that South Sudan is Africa (‘our people’) and would not want the same happen in the country.

There are a number of decisions to investigate if we are to address the challenges faced by peacekeepers during some counter-terrorism operations. Just like the case of Nigeria, where military personnel were dismissed and charged to face court marital; then later discovered that they were not properly armed to counter-attack the Boko Haram terrorist group, could it be true that the commanders of Ugandan troops were inactive during the September 1st attack on an African Union base? What preventive and detective mechanism put in place by the Peace and Security Council of the African Union put alert to or averted exigent threats of terrorism? Addressing these would provide justification on how to serve punishment or protect the African peacekeepers.


Oyewole Oginni
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