The International Contact Group on Somalia meets today – Friday - in Nairobi to discuss the possible deployment of African peacekeepers to Somalia. Uganda has offered to send up to one thousand soldiers, but says it wants a clear exit strategy before committing. Meanwhile, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is expected to meet Friday in Addis Ababa with African Union Chairman Alpha Oumar Konari. But should Uganda send troops to Somalia.
Kizza Besigye is leader of Uganda’s main opposition party, Forum for Democratic Change. He said Uganda’s offer to deploy troops to Somalia is problematic.
“Well, in plain talk, there will be nothing wrong with the African countries supporting one of their own to establish stability and security within that country. But this particular proposal, the deployment of Ugandan troops to Somalia is problematic from two points. One is that the political situation in Somalia itself is one that is not conducive for such a deployment because you don’t have a broad consensus of the need to have that kind of assistance from other countries. In fact, the broad Somali opinion is against any foreign troops being deployed in Somalia,” Besigye said.
He also said the Ethiopian intervention in Somalia has no legitimacy because it has been ruled out by the African Union and the United Nations.
“So from that point of view, I think it is not proper that Uganda sent troops to further complicate the situation in Somalia. But secondly, you know Uganda itself is not a country that is at peace. We have been having war here for the last 20 years. We still have hundreds of thousands of people of our own country displaced because of war situation. And therefore it would be imprudent for a government like ours, or a country like ours, which is yet to settle its own conflict situation to start sending thousands of troops to deal with faraway situation,” Besigye said.
Besigye said the argument that Somalia must be stabilized and return to the community nations is a good idea. But he said stability cannot not be imposed from outside.
“It is perfectly alright, and everything should be done to bring stability to Somalia or any country that is in the situation of Somalia. The question that begs is what kind of actions are likely to cause that kind of stability. Are the actions of Ethiopia going to cause that stability? And my take on it is that it won’t as long as you have not dealt with the underlying political situation that created that chaos in the first place. So, security cannot be enforced from outside. It must be built from within,” Besigye said.