Uganda sent 2745 new troops in the latest deployment to the volatile Somalia ahead of the presidential elections.
The new troops deployed under Uganda Battle Group 20 will be charged with ensuring security during the presidential elections which have been postponed thrice this year.
Somalis were supposed to elect a new president on November 30 but the electoral body postponed the polls to an unspecified date this year pending conclusion of election of members of parliament who will in turn elect the president.
“The first flight of UGABAG XX comprising of eighty soldiers has safely landed in Mogadishu. The Boeing 737 from Ocean Air Lines Company touched the ground at Adan Abdulle International Airport at about 0730Hrs East African standard time,” reads a statement from the Uganda People’s Defence Forces ((UPDF) on Monday.
Battle Group 20 is replacing Battle Group 17 which is leaving Somalia after one year deployment in the Horn of Africa.
Brig Kayanja Muhanga, the 4th Division Commander, will also replace Brig Sam Okiding as the commander of the Ugandan contingent.
Among the three battalions under Battle Group 20, the 7th and 69th battalions had earlier served in Somalia in 2011.
The Chief of Defence of Forces, Gen Katumba Wamala said he expects these two battalions to perform better because of previous experience in Mogadishu.
Brig Kayanja, who commanded the battles that led to the capture of Mogadishu in 2011 was a colonel by then. He now assumes a bigger role of Contingent Commander whose main role will be to keep Mogadishu and southern parts of the country secure during the elections.
The initial plan was to hold universal adult suffrage election system but the proposal was abandoned because of insecurity in different parts of the country.
They will instead use 14,025 clan representatives who form electoral colleges that will elect members of the Lower House of parliament who will in turn elect the president.
Among the presidential candidates are the incumbent President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Fadumo Dayib, one of the two females to ever run for president in Somalia.