The Ugandan military said on Monday it has begun the withdrawal of 281 peacekeepers as part of condition-based drawdown of its over 6,000 troops deployed in Somalia.
Ugandan military spokesperson Brig. Richard Karemire told Xinhua that phased withdrawal is in compliance with the African Union- and United Nations-approved reduction of 1,000 uniformed personnel serving under African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) by the Dec. 31 deadline.
“The reduction has already started and UPDF (Uganda People’s Defense Force) shall be in compliance by Dec. 31 as required by UN Security Council Resolution 2372,” said Karemire.
In August 2017, the UN Security Council extended the mandate of AMISOM until May 31, 2018, and approved a reduction of its uniformed personnel to a maximum 21,626 by Dec. 31, 2017, with an eye toward the gradual handover of responsibilities to Somali security forces.
Special Representative of the African Union Chairperson for Somalia Francisco Madeira announced last month that some 1,000 soldiers from the 22,000 strong regional force will be withdrawn from the Horn of Africa country by Dec. 31.
AMISOM is comprised of troops drawn from Uganda, Burundi, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti who are deployed in six sectors covering south and central Somalia.
Karemire said the phased withdrawal of troops and gradual handover of security responsibilities will be based on the ability of the Somali National Security Forces to ably take over the country’s security.
As part of the military drawdown, the pan-African body will deploy an extra 500 police officers to strengthen training and mentoring for Somali police.