Monday, January 14, 2008

Uganda sending 3,000 troops to Kenya

Uganda could send about 3,000 soldiers into Kenya ostensibly to secure the country’s imports and exports en route to and from the coast of Mombasa, reports Ugandan daily Red Pepper. Uganda’s economy relies heavily on the route through Kenya to the seaport of Mombasa, and imports, especially of fuel, have been affected by the post-election violence that has plagued Kenya since the 27 December disputed presidential poll widely believed to have been heavily rigged by the government.

Meanwhile, the Uganda People’s Defence Forces has refuted claims that it has deployed in Kenya. In an article published in the Sunday Vision, 13th January 2008, the UPDF spokesman Capt. Paddy Ankunda was quoted as saying, “We have no troops at all on Kenyan soil.” According to reports in the Sunday Standard, some Ugandan troops were sighted in Busia town and in Port Victoria along River Sio. The paper also quoted the Nambale MP-elect, Chris Okemo, as saying that some Ugandan soldiers crossed the “no-man’s-land” borderline. “We have received reports that a number of strangers, whose mission is unknown, have been spotted in groups. We are still investigating the claims,” Okemo said. But Capt. Ankunda said “It’s a bad lie with no iota of truth. Troops in Kenya? What for? We are not at war,” he emphasised.

Asked whether the claims could be connected to threats by the Kenyan opposition ODM party to carry out massive protests and block Uganda’s main supply route, Ankunda said deploying a foreign army could not be a solution. “If that (blockade) happens, do you have to send troops? You cannot send soldiers into another country without the permission of the international community,” Ankunda clarified. He said the only Ugandan soldiers in Kenya are training at the Karen Defence College in Nairobi.

The Standard also quoted Bondo MP-elect Dr. Oburu Odinga claiming that people in the Ugandan military landed on Mageta Island on Saturday evening. “The first batch of 12 soldiers, who spoke strange Kiswahili, arrived at Mageta Island past 5:00pm on Friday and asked for directions to Usenge and Uhanya beach,” Oburu said. However, Nyanza PPO, Grace Kaindi, denied the claims. In Nairobi, the Police spokesman, Eric Karaithe, also refuted SMS messages circulating across the region that Uganda had sent 3,000 troops to crush the opposition protest slated for Wednesday. Karaithe said Kenya had enough forces to hanlde the situation.

1 comment:

EoK said...

A very good update on the issue, but the headline "Uganda sending 3,000 troops to Kenya" is a little bit misleading, since it says in the first sentence: “Uganda could send about 3,000 soldiers into Kenya...” and later on the army spokesperson says: “...You cannot send soldiers into another country without the permission of the international community,”

It is very important to keep an eye on the issue and raise awareness of the “international community” to keep Ugandan troops out of Kenya. So thank you for the update.