UPDF readjusts positions in AMISOM for tactical reasons

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Col Omola said the move to readjust their positions had been informed by strategic reasons aimed at fortifying the UPDF in the town and to avert any collateral damage in the event of skirmishes.

A delegation from the African Union Commission has carries out an assessment on the state of the Somalia-based peacekeeping mission to identify areas that need urgent support from the African Union.

The Commander of the Uganda AMISOM contingent stationed in the Somali coastal town of Marka, Col. Peter Omola, has refuted reports that the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) has pulled out of the town, saying the army has only readjusted its positions for tactical reasons.

Briefing and delegation from the Africa Union (AU) headquarters, Col Omola said the move to readjust their positions had been informed by strategic reasons aimed at fortifying the UPDF in the town and to avert any collateral damage in the event of skirmishes.

The delegation led by Maj. Gen. Francis Okello from AU Commission’s Peace Support Operations Division visited Marka while on an assessment of the Somalia-based peacekeeping mission to among others identify areas in need of urgent support from the headquarters in order to invigorate the mission there.

The delegation also sought to explore ways of assisting Somali security institutions alongside AMISOM troops, execute their mandate of keeping the country safe and warding off threats posed by Al Shabaab and other armed militant groups.

“We are firmly in control of Marka town itself. We are patrolling the area day and night. We also have a detachment of Somali National Army in this location. At the same time, the population is very positive. We are cooperating with the population. The population is supporting AMISOM operations. They are giving us information despite threats and intimidation from Al-Shabaab,” said Col. Omola explained.

Lt. Col. Paul Njuguna, the AMISOM Force Spokesperson, dispelled recent media reports that the African Union troops had withdrawn from the strategic port city.

“We have visited this area so that we can come out with the facts as they are on the ground. We do remember a few days ago, there were a myriad of reports in the media on Marka. We are in Marka to certify that it is a peaceful town. The people here are going on with their lives as normal and they are going to achieve peace in their lives,” said Njuguna.

The media in the recent past has been awash with stories by the Al-Shabaab militia claiming that the UPDF had pulled out of the town, which has since fallen in their hands.

The delegation last week visited Somalia to carry out the assessment and to find out  how AMISOM planned to implement the revised Concept of Operations (CONOPS) that was endorsed by the African Union Peace and Security Council at its 544th meeting in September last year.

The revised CONOPS for AMISOM aims to create and preserve an enabling environment for the unfolding political, peace and reconciliation processes in Somalia.
The delegation also sought to explore ways of assisting Somali security institutions alongside AMISOM troops in executing their mandate of keeping the country safe and warding off threats posed by Al Shabaab and other armed militant groups.

“Our visit here is to find out the preparedness of troops to support this political process. The second key aspect of the visit is: as you are aware last year in August, AMISOM and the African Union Headquarters produced a new CONOPs and this visit is to find out how that concept of operations, in support with the political process in Somalia is unfolding,” Okello said.

The visit further evaluated the Mission’s readiness for the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections to be held in Somalia, scheduled later this year.

The Assistant Commissioner of Police, Crowd Chirenje, a member of the visiting AU delegation said, “At the end of this visit, we are going to give a feedback to people who make the decisions and actions that we need to take at our level as managers of the Mission, to support the Mission, to support the Federal Government of Somalia to help realize lasting peace and stability in Somalia.” – See more at: http://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1417117/updf-readjusts-positions-amisom-tactical-reasons#sthash.w9fFeK6Z.dpuf

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