Somalia president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who is currently in Uganda, has lauded his Ugandan counterpart, President Museveni, for the unwavering support in fighting terrorism in the horn of Africa.
President Mohamud made the remarks on Sunday evening at the passing out of 2,900 trainees for the Somali National Army, who have successfully concluded their four-month special Basic Military Training at the Special Mission Training Centre in Butiaba, Bulisa District.
“This is not the first time that Uganda has contributed to the peaceful establishment of the Somali State. Somalia is grateful and will ever remain indebted for the sacrifices that the government and the people of Uganda under the leadership of His Excellency President Museveni has done to Somalia at very difficult times,” President Mohamud said.
He was accompanied by his daughter, Ms Janah Hassan Sheikh, and the Minister of Defense of the Federal Republic of Somalia, Mr Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur.
The two heads of state also witnessed military demonstrations at the range grounds conducted by the Somali graduands that included among others very impressive and spectacular marksmanship in range firing, patrols, check points hose clearing and VIP protection-suicide attacks.
President Mohamud, who earlier administered the Oath of Allegiance to the graduands, described the pass out occasion as the signing of the history of partnership between Somalia and Uganda in defeating terrorism in Africa and in particular the horn of Africa.
He noted that it has been a decade and a half since the first contingent of Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF) stepped in Somalia.
“At that time, there was a lot of uncertainty, very insecure, a very doubtful future where many people were publicly saying that the Ugandans will fail in Somalia. This has been proven wrong. The Ugandan contingent landed in Somalia and has been the seed of many other African countries who also followed the footsteps of Uganda at very difficult and uncertain times in the past,” he said.
President Mohamud was optimistic that the rolling out of well-trained forces in Uganda will certainly change the environment of Somalia and also in the operational theatres where the war against terrorism is being conducted.
“Today is another milestone where the almost 3,000 graduands from a very effective and efficient training that we have been shown today. I believe that this will definitely change the environment of Somalia and in the operational theatres of the war going on in Somalia right now. It is the people of Somalia who are fighting today. It is the people of Somalia who say no to terrorists,” he added.
He also noted that the terrorists are now on the run as they have no place to hide, with just few places where there is natural defence such as forests and certain mountainous areas.
The Somali leader disclosed that in the last six months, large sways of land has been redeemed from the terrorists and the government is now providing people in liberated areas with the services they had been denied for the last one and a half decades such as absence of schools, medical facilities and other basic necessities.
President Museveni on his part thanked President Mohamud for his kind remarks and appreciation for Uganda’s contribution to the resistance in Somalia.
He said the training received by the Somali trainees was at tactical level and was the medicine for the terrorists.
“I am very glad to hear what the president said that it is no longer a war of the government but a peoples’ war. That is how we managed to fight here,” he said.
The Minister of Defense and Veteran Affairs, Mr Vincent Ssempija, thanked President Museveni, the United Arab Emirate as well as the Global Security Services for their support. He also thanked the Somali government for entrusting them with the task of training its army.
Other speakers included the Chief of Defense Forces, Gen Wilson Mbadi and the overseer of the training Centre Brig Gen Fred Twinamatsiko. Also present were the Minister of State for Defense, Mr Oboth-Oboth and other senior government and security officials.