Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces has spoken out about the secret deployment of soldiers to Equatorial Guinea, saying the mission is a mere training which isn’t categorized as a peace keeping mission.
Acknowledging its presence in the West African country, the UPDF spokesperson Brigadier Richard Karemire said the Ugandan force had gained the necessary credentials to train other forces.
“UPDF professionalism has been upheld and now we are being considered as trainers and this is because last year, the British army chose only UPDF in Africa for training and indeed they came and trained and so after that help, we are also training others,” Brig. Karemire, told EagleOnline.
He stressed: “It is not a peace keeping mission and it didn’t need a Parliamentary approval; it is legal and in line with the two armies that signed the agreement.”
According to military sources, the UPDF was secretly deployed with at least 200 soldiers in Equatorial Guinea. Further, the military sources said, the troops were deployed in batches to protect Africa’s longest serving President Teodoro Obiang Nguema.
The first UPDF batch reportedly left early this year with their weapons and according to military sources, they are commanded by Lt. Col. Wycleff Keita who returned from Somalia last year. He was working as the commander of the Ugandan troops guarding UN installations in Somalia.
It’s not clear under what arrangement UPDF deployed because according to the Uganda Constitution of 1995, deployment of soldiers outside the country must be approved by Parliament.
This is the fourth time UPDF is being deployed outside Uganda without parliamentary approval with the last deployments being in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Somalia, South Sudan and now Equatorial Guinea.