Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Uganda to Prosecute Military Officers Over Alleged Food Theft

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Uganda is set to prosecute more than a dozen military officers over the alleged theft of food meant for African Union peacekeeping troops in Somalia, in the latest corruption incident involving the U.S.-backed peacekeeping mission in the war-torn, Horn of Africa nation, the Ugandan military said Monday.
Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni has recalled at least 20 military officers, including the commander of the Ugandan contingent, Brig. Michael Ondoga, after an investigation by Ugandan military intelligence implicated them in the diversion of food and fuel meant for the peacekeepers, Uganda's military spokesman Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda said.
The development marks a major shake-up of the Uganda-led peacekeeping mission, which drove the al Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab militants out of Somalia's war torn capital, Mogadishu, in 2011.
"The officers are expected to report to the headquarters of land forces this week for further action; investigations are continuing," Lt. Col. Ankunda said. He said the further action would include prosecutions.
Uganda's military intelligence launched investigations in June after it was found that the 6,000-strong Ugandan troops in Somalia were having only one meal a day. Intelligence officers accuse the commanders of selling food and fuel meant for the peacekeepers to private companies in Mogadishu.
Brig. Ondoga declined to comment on the accusations.
In the past three years, the Uganda-led peacekeepers, including troops from Kenya, Burundi and Senegal, have registered significant strides in the offensive against the al-Shabaab militants, driving them out of their former strongholds of Mogadishu, Kismayu and Baidoa. But corruption incidents have threatened to overshadow the military gains.
In July, a confidential report by United Nations monitors accused Kenyan soldiers of facilitating al-Shabaab militants to illegally export charcoal worth millions of dollars from the strategic port city of Kismayu. The Somali government has since asked the African Union to replace the Kenyans in Kismayu. The Kenyan military denies the accusations. The U.N. banned charcoal exports from Somalia early 2012, in an attempt to choke off the source of funding for the militants.
The U.N. monitors said in a July report that although al-Shabaab has suffered conventional military setbacks, particularly in urban centers, its military strength, which is estimated at 5,000 fighters, remains intact in terms of operational readiness, chain of command, discipline and communication capabilities.
Somalia hasn't had an effective government for the past 20 years, making it a haven for alleged pirates, terrorists and illicit arms dealers.


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