East Africa: Chaos Will Resurrect If Uganda Leaves Somalia

“I hope that is just a bad dream that will come to pass,” says Abdunor Ahmed, a Somali based in Kisenyi, Uganda, on his view about Uganda’s intention to withdraw her forces from Somalia.

This is the wish of nearly every Somali, obviously apart from the militant al-Shabaab group.

For the last two weeks, Uganda has been threatening to withdraw from Somalia if a leaked UN report blaming Uganda for supporting the M23 rebel outfit in DRC is published. Uganda vehemently denies supporting the rebel outfit.

But in the event that Uganda leaves, the likely scenario is that AMISOM will cease to exist in the short run and Somalia will once again plunge into chaos.

Composition of the mission

Uganda took the lead in the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia. As they were deploying in 2007, Ethiopian forces were withdrawing just after a year in Somalia.

The Ethiopians had chased away the Islamic Courts rule in Somalia, but had in return created a situation that led to the birth of al-Shabaab.

The mandate that authorised the AMISOM force deployment barred countries neighbouring Somalia from contributing to AMISOM.

The first Ugandan troops landed in 2007 to a barrage of mortar shells. The unit had 1,500 troops, supported by 12 tanks and APCs.

When the mission was set by IGAD and the African Union, the agreed troop deployment was 8,000. In late 2007, Burundi followed with a battalion of about 800 troops.

It has been very difficult to get countries to deploy to Somalia and that is why a withdraw by any of the deployed countries may lead to the collapse of the mission.

The current deployment stands at around 17,600 troops, of which 6,700 are Ugandan, 4,700 are Kenyan while 4,400 are from Burundi. Others include Djibouti with 300 out of a promised 800.

Nigeria has deployed mainly policemen, just like Malawi, Senegal, Ghana, Zambia and Cameroon that have less than five soldiers each-mainly as liaison officers.

The deployments show that Uganda has got at least 2,000 troops more than any other country in Somalia.