MPs arrive in Somalia to assess UPDF mission

Members of the Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Internal Affairs arrived in Mogadishu-Somalia for an oversight visit to assess the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) performance and challenges.

The delegation includes the committee chairperson; Rosemary Nyakikongoro. They were led by the Minister of State for Defence in charge of Veteran Affairs Huda Abason Oleru.

The delegation was received by the Ugandan Deputy Ambassador to Somalia; Maj Gen (Rtd) Nathan Mugisha and the outgoing UPDF Contingent Commander in Somalia; Brig Gen Keith Katungi on Tuesday 6th December 2022. 

Ugandans is expected to sign at least 10 more agreements with Somalia to boost the bilateral cooperation between the two countries. The agreements are aimed at promoting interactions between citizens of the two countries in the various areas of education, business, sports, culture, health, defence and security.   

Mugisha explained that the agreements are targeted at formalising and cementing the relations between the two countries.   

Mugisha said this recently while addressing the media on the outcome of the recent visit to Uganda by President Hassan Shiekh Mohamud of Somalia. The function took place at the ministry of foreign affairs. During Mohamud’s visit, the first Uganda-Somalia Investment and Business Summit was held on 19th August 2022.   

Mugisha said the new memorandum of understanding would focus on the following areas; immigration, customs, bilateral air services, education and sports, standards, finance, banking, investment promotion, statistics, economic development and culture.    

“The 10 MOUs are expected by the end of the year by the ministries, agencies and departments of government that did not sign them,” Mugisha said. He said the MOUs are important because in many areas of cooperation between the two countries there were no formal arrangements.    

“There are 19,000 Somali students in Uganda and there is no document that covers them. We have many Uganda teachers in Somalia but there are formal arrangements to protect them in case any challenges arise,” Mugisha said.   

He said the Federal Government of Somalia in the past when the UN requested for troop draw down requested UPDF to continue providing protection.    

“The UN Security plan for troop reduction is not realistic but has to be implemented. We will make an evaluation on what will happen after the troops draw down. The troops cannot be in Somalia forever,” Mugisha said.  

He noted that Uganda and Somalia are expected to sign before December the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) to determine the position and the modus operandi of the UPDF in Somalia.   

He said that four MOUs were signed during the visit of Mohamud. They were on; diplomatic and political consultation, cooperation on defence, co-operation on trade and investment and cooperation between the investment promotion agencies.  

A joint permanent investment and business council will make sure that what was signed are implemented and any bottlenecks that will arise during implementation will be tackled.   

He said that business forum will now take shape beyond the security matters Uganda has been engaging with Somalia. He noted by the end of the year following UN Security Council Resolution 2628, Uganda has to reduce its troops number by 2,000 from about 5,000.    

He noted that donors could be facing challenges of funding troop deployment in Somalia. He said the US and EU were facing challenges with war between Russia and Ukraine.   

The ambassador said that Somalia presents many opportunities for trade for Ugandans.

“Ugandans have to be courageous and take on the business opportunities available in Somalia. There are opportunities in the agro based areas such as milk, dairy, fruits, sugar, minerals and education,” Mugisha said. 

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