KAMPALA, Uganda (eTN) – The African Union (AU) Summit in Munyonyo, Kampala, has backed President Museveni’s response to the terror attacks by Al Shabab militias from Somalia on Ugandan territory and on Ugandan troops deployed in Mogadishu. The country will reply in kind and smoke the terrorists out of their hideouts in parts of Somalia not presently under control by the transitional federal government.
The AU has also agreed to send more troops and give them a more robust mandate, which allows them to attack militias spotted before first being fired upon, giving the AU contingent a forward defense option.
Presently, only troops from Uganda and Burundi are on the ground but more are expected shortly from Djibouti and Guinea – the latter’s troop already dispatched on the ground in Djibouti for final training and acclimatization before deployment to Mogadishu. Troop strength, presently at a ceiling of 8,100, is expected to rise to 20,000 in due course, and the summit is also due to remove restrictions which have so far banned countries neighboring Somalia to deploy there under the AU mandate.
Meanwhile, the US administration’s representatives have arrived in Uganda in the form of the Attorney General and the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and former Ambassador in the region Mr. Johnnie Carson, to interact with the heads of state and delegation present and discuss security cooperation and other matters of mutual interest and concern. It is expected that the US will be making an aid package available towards the summit theme of health for African mothers and children and also for security cooperation and the anti-terrorism fight, where Africa has become another potential platform for Al Qaida and their devilish offspring’s across Africa, subject to improved governance and an intensified fight against the endemic corruption often seen across the continent.
It is the latter, however, which has raised some tension between the US and key contributors to the AU mission in Somalia during specific discussions, when no concrete financial support commitments were made, something which was noted with disappointment that the US was seemingly shifting the financial aspects to the relatively poorer African countries. From other sources it was learned that the AU was also pushing to elevate the Somalia mission to UN status to gain access to greater resources and the ability to deploy non-African troop contingents to Somalia, where – and there was no disagreement over this – the threat of another theatre in the war on terror has grown exponentially in recent months.