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UGANDAN PEACEKEEPERS IN SOMAL;IA TO BE WITHDRAWN FROM NEXT YEAR

KAMPALA, -- Uganda, the largest contributor to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) fighting the al-Shabaab militants in that country, will pull out its peacekeepers troops from the Horn of Africa nation next year, says the Chief of Defence Forces, General Katumba Wamala.

Uganda was the first country to send soldiers to Somalia, spearheading the establishment of AMISOM in March 2007 to fight the al-Shabaab insurgents and protect the internationally-recognized government in Mogadishu.

Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya have since joined up and the 22,100-strong mission currently has 6,200 Ugandan soldiers.

"We plan to disengage from Somalia beginning December 2017," said Gen. Wamala. "It's a decision Uganda is taking and the key actors are informed on the way forward."

Last month, army spokesman Paddy Ankunda said Uganda was "reviewing ... involvement in AMISOM".

Wamala declined to give specific reasons for the planned withdrawal saying only: "There comes a time when a man must come home."

The announcement comes in the wake of European Union (EU) funding cuts to AMISOM and amidst negotiations ahead of an expected renewal of the AMISOM mandate by the UN Security Council next month.

In January, the EU, a major donor to the Somalia mission, cut its funding by 20 per cent, saying African countries must bear more of the burden of soldiers' salaries. Soon afterwards, Kenya threatened to withdraw its 3,700 troops in protest.

In late May, the UN approved an extension of the AMISOM mandate until July 8, when a full renewal will be discussed.

Uganda has made similar threats in the past. In 2012, it failed to follow through on a threat to pull out of all peacekeeping missions after UN investigators accused it of backing rebels in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Source: Name News Network