The Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) has expressed gratitude for the support and close ties with the Somali community in SouthWest Federal State while serving under the African Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS). Brigadier General Felix Kulayigye, the Defence Spokesperson, stressed that UPDF’s existence in Somalia relies on the support of the Somali people.
During a meeting with Somali local authorities at Uganda Battle Group 37 Headquarters in Celjaale, Somalia, Brig Kulayigye acknowledged that UPDF’s mission is to assist Somalis in resolving their problems. He emphasized that once the issues are resolved, UPDF will return to Uganda, highlighting the importance of Somali cooperation.
“We are here to assist Somalis in resolving their problems. Once the issues are resolved, UPDF will return to Uganda, so it is essential that we work together to achieve our shared goals,” said Brig Kulayigye.
Brig Kulayigye commended President Museveni’s support, recognizing his role as an ambassador for UPDF and emphasizing the military’s commitment to working harmoniously with civilian populations.
Yusuf Osman Ali, the Chief of Celjaale, expressed gratitude for the sacrifice and dedication of ATMIS forces in Somalia. Ali highlighted the improved security and the ability for Somalis to conduct business without disruption from the Al-Shabaab group. He voiced opposition to the withdrawal of ATMIS forces and requested President Museveni’s intervention to maintain UPDF’s presence in Somalia.
Bujeet Haji Isse also urged General Kulayigye to inform President Museveni of Somalia’s desire for UPDF to remain in the country, citing the crucial role they played in establishing peace and harmony.
Colonel Charles Asiimwe Kibaate, the Battle Group 37 Commander, emphasized the importance of military and civil cooperation to the visiting team of journalists. He highlighted the involvement of local authorities and Somali Security Forces in all their operations.
During their visit, the team also interviewed Brig Gen Peter Gaetano Omola, the contingent commander, and Ambassador Mohamed El-Amine Souef, the ATMIS Head and Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission.