As the bodies of the gallant UPDF soldiers who died in a brutal ambush in Somalia return home and as the country mourns them, I wish to join other Ugandans in conveying heartfelt condolences to their families and the UPDF family generally.
Soldiers put their lives on the line and at times make the ultimate sacrifice. They do this for legitimate reasons (e.g. when they guard us and our nation by day and night), and sometimes for illegitimate reasons (e.g. when they simply have to obey orders against their conscience and conviction).
When one soldier dies therefore, I am reminded that he or she is someone’s son, daughter, father, mother, etc who like many of us was looking for a better life for themselves and their country only for their dreams to be cut short. We shall keep their families in prayer.
On Uganda’s involvement in the AMISOM mission, as a pan-Africanist I believe it is a noble and legitimate cause. The fight against instability in any African State is an urgent and legitimate one. The question is on the methods. I would think that an African Union standby force would be better for such missions than individual countries.
Currently, only Uganda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya are contributing troops, and they control a small portion of the territory. A large number of troops drawn from many countries would ensure that the mission is more effective and successful and perhaps even for a shorter time.
The other problem is that some leaders have used the mission as a cover-up for their domestic HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS and UNDEMOCRATIC tendencies.
They literally hold the world at ransom and remind everyone who questions their record that they could pull out of Somalia! With an African Union Force this sense of entitlement wouldn’t arise because all countries would contribute forces. Such a force would also be on standby to ensure that citizens’ views are respected in any African country where a dictator tries to play funny games- like what the ECOWAS forces did in the Gambia recently.
Secondly, there have been reports that soldiers were not being paid their full allowances which is a big shame.
Third and very important, the main focus shouldn’t be placed on combat operations in Somalia or even other troubled countries but more on empowering the citizens of those countries to build capacity and defend themselves.
The people Somalia should be assisted to build its own strong army, police and other institutions and defend their country.
I believe that the citizens of any country are better placed to defend their country.
May the souls of the departed officers rest in peace.
Bobi Wine (Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu) is a Ugandan musician, and Kyadondo East MP