Kampala. The African Union has appointed Lt Gen Tigabu Yilma Wondimhunegn from the Ethiopia National Defence Forces (ENDF) to take over the African Union Mission for Somalia (Amisom) command of Lt Gen Jim Beesigye Owoyesigire of the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) .
The Amisom command is rotational among countries that contribute troops to the volatile Horn of African nation. Uganda has been in overall command since January 2018.
While presiding over the handover ceremony in Mogadishu on Thursday, the head of Amisom, Mr Francisco Caetano Madeira, said there is still a big task for the forces to defeat Islamic militants, the al-Shaabab.
“There is work to be done,” Mr Madeira told Gen Tigabu, according to a statement on the Amison website.
“The task ahead is enormous, but I am very confident that you can do it,” he added.
Gen Owoyesigire commended
Mr Madeira commended Gen Owoyesigire for “sharing all his knowledge” to push forward Amisom’s mandate. He described the outgoing force commander as an “extraordinary officer”.
Gen Tigabu who has 34-years’ experience in the military having served ENDF in several capacities, including as division, brigade, battalion, and Company Commander, described his new tour of duty as challenging.
“This Mission is a challenging one, but we are up to the task,” Gen Tigabu said.
The UPDF has also hailed Lt Gen Owoyesigire for the completion of his term. “The UPDF salutes Gen Owoyesigire for the job well done towards pacification and building Somalia’s national security. He has commanded the Amisom forces well ever since he took over the task,” said Brig Richard Karemire, the UPDF spokesperson.
Brig Karemire told Sunday Monitor yesterday that Gen Owoyesigire is returning to the Army headquarters, Mbuya as he awaits redeployment by President Museveni.
He said, Uganda’s Maj Gen James Nakibus Lakara will now take over as the deputy Amisom commandant in-charge-of operations.
The 59-year-old has been the commander of Jinja based, Uganda Rapid Deployment Capability Centre.
About the officers
Gen Tigabu has also served as a member of the Ethiopia Defence Council. He holds a Masters degree in Business Administration, a degree in Leadership and Military Science and a Diploma in Law.
Gen Owoyesigire has held several positions in the army and before heading to Somalia, he was chairman of the National Defence College Establishment Steering Committee. He also represented the army in Parliament from 2011 to 2016. Before that, he commanded the Air Force from 2005 to 2012.