The Ugandan military said on Saturday it had completed the first withdrawal of 281 peacekeepers as part of the condition-based drawdown of its over 6,000 troops deployed in volatile Somalia.
Ugandan military spokesperson Brig. Richard Karemire told Xinhua that withdrawal of the troops is in compliance with the African Union and United Nations approved the reduction of 1,000 uniformed personnel serving under African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) by the Dec. 31 deadline.
Uganda early this month begun the phased withdrawal the peacekeepers.
“We have already fulfilled our requirement as per the United Nations Security Council resolution. We have already reduced our troops there [Somalia] by 281 in compliance with the Dec. 31 deadline,” said Karemire.
The UN Security Council in August 2017 extended the mandate of AMISOM until May 31, 2018, and approved a reduction of its uniformed personnel to a maximum 21,626 men by Dec. 31, with an eye toward the gradual handover of responsibilities to Somali National 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Somalia, Francisco Madeira announced last month that some 1,000 soldiers from the 22,000 strong regional force will be withdrawn from the war-torn country by Dec. 31.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.
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, according to AMISOM exit strategy.
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.