The Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party has asked the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) to plan for its exit from Somalia, saying Uganda has not benefited from the mission.
While addressing the media yesterday at the party headquarters in Najjanankumbi, Kampala, FDC deputy secretary general Harold Kaija said Uganda has been very instrumental in peacekeeping in the region but the benefits to the citizens are very minimal.
“What are the benefits to the people of Uganda so that as we bury, we know [that] the children and grandchildren of people who have died should never look for where to sleep, food or even clothes. But we can’t have orphans who you ask where their father died and they can’t tell,” Mr Kaija said.
He added that countries such as the US and the United Kingdom developed because their countries benefited from such wars.
Mr Kaija further said because of the deployment of its soldiers in the region, it has created many enemies, which could lead to conflicts.
“While we recognise the importance of UPDF’s deployment to Somalia to aid in the restoration of peace and stability in the region, we also share concerns regarding the absence of a clear exit plan. It is crucial that Somalia is empowered to govern its own affairs and that the peacekeeping force is not an occupation force in the areas,” Mr Kaija said.
He added: “We must also invite other countries with big armies like South Africa, Egypt, Saudi Arabia so that it doesn’t look like a Uganda Force.”
He said the peacekeeping mission has since turned into an occupational force alleging that the process of selecting individuals for deployment in Somalia within the UPDF has been tainted with corruption.
“It is unfortunate that some members of the UPDF pay bribes to secure deployment to Somalia solely for financial gain, without considering their qualifications for the task at hand. It is disheartening that the Commander in Chief, Mr Museveni, is aware of this issue yet has remained silent,” he said.
Brig Gen Felix Kulayige, the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) spokesperson, said: “We didn’t go for benefits, we are not mercenaries. This country deployed to Somalia on a Pan African mission approved by African Union and United nations. Have we completed that mission for us to withdraw.”
As for the corruption allegations, Brig Gen Kulayigye said he was not aware of it.