The Defence Spokesperson, Brigadier Felix Kulayigye has commended the support and existing cordial relationship between the Somalis and the Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces serving in Somalia under African Transition Mission in Somalia.
He said this while meeting Somali local authorities at Uganda Battle Group 37 Headquarters in Celjaale, Somalia where he reminded the authorities that the existence of UPDF in Somalia is dependent upon Somalis.
“Without you we cannot exist. We came to support you to solve your problems, you have the solution. Once the problem is done we shall go back to our country. I want to thank my commander for being a true ambassador of UPDF because it is our culture to cooperate with civilians, which is where we derive our strength,” said Brig Kulayigye.
The Chief of Celjaale, Yusuf Osman Ali thanked ATMIS forces for the sacrifice and perseverance they have endured in Somalia.
He said it is from this sacrifice that Somalis can do their business freely without being disrupted by Al-Shabaab and expressed the objection towards the withdrawal of ATMIS Forces.
“Thank you for your sacrifice. We had run away from here but when AMISOM came, we came back. We are not happy with ATMIS withdrawal. This village we named it Kampala two while Kampala one is in Uganda. We still need you,” said Yusuf Osman.
Mr Bujeet Haji Isse tasked the Defence Spokesperson to inform President Yoweri Museveni not to allow UPDF to leave Somalia in the near future. “Tell him we don’t want ATMIS to withdraw. Ugandan soldiers have helped us to live peacefully and in harmony. My people have instructed me to tell President Yoweri Museveni to let ATMIS stay. Please continue with your work,” urged Haji Isse.
Meanwhile, Col Charles Asiimwe Kibaate, the Battle Group 37 Commander, informed the visiting team of journalists headed by Defence Spokesperson that whatever activity they do; be it militarily or civil cooperation, they do it with the blessing and participation of local authority and the Somali Security Forces.
“The wanainchi are appreciative. We involve them in every activity we do. They detached themselves from Al-Shabaab activities,” said Col Asiimwe.
Brig Felix Kulayigye is in Somalia with journalists from different media houses to take stock of the achievements and challenges ATMIS forces are facing.
So far, they have visited Barawe which is and Ceeljale all in Sector One under UPDF. The team has interacted with Somali local authorities and interviewed Brig 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.