UPDF soldiers hand over VIP protection to Somali security forces 

UPDF soldiers hand over VIP protection to Somali security forces 

Mogadishu, Somalia | By Michael Wandati | The Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) have handed over the responsibility of protecting the President, other very important persons (VIPs) and critical infrastructure in Somalia to the country’s security forces.

The handover was effected on Sunday and was attended by representatives from the United Nations (UN), officials from the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS), and members of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS).

The UPDF has been responsible for the protection of key officials and infrastructure for the last 16 years.

The National Security Advisor to the president Hussein Sheikh Ali Maalim noted that the handover of the two vital installations is a significant milestone not only to the Federal government of Somalia but also to the people of Somalia.

UPDF soldiers hand over VIP protection to Somalia forces 

“This is a historical day, the takeover of these vital installations is a testimony by the government to the public who are now seeing Somalia government as being serious in protecting their own. It is a milestone not because ATMIS is leaving but it shows government is serious in protecting its citizens,” explained Hussein Maalim.

The Chief of Staff office of the president Abdihakim Mohamed Yusuf, reminisced the sacrifice from the brothers and sisters of all troop contributing countries  who have helped in rebuilding Somalia.

He acknowledged that Somalia is fighting the most sophisticated terror group in the world – Al Shabaab.

“The fact that we are taking over security responsibility of these vital installations, shows that we are defeating them. We are now fighting Al-Shabaab 500 to 800 kilometers away from Mogadishu. We shall forever remain grateful to your sacrifice. Our cooperation and partnership will not end here but this is the beginning. Thank you TCCs particula onrly Ugandan forces who have been here for the last 16 years. We share this bond and we will remain grateful,” remarked Abdihakim.

UPDF soldiers hand over VIP protection to Somalia forces 

The Special Representative of the Chairperson of African Union Commission and Head of ATMIS, Mohamed Al-Amine Seouf, noted that the handover of State House and Parliament security was a significant step in the resumption of ATMIS drawdown of phase two. He stated that the handover of the two state institutions were previously central at ATMIS mandate which now becomes a critical move in the transition process.

“We are now fulfilling the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2710 (2023) mandated to reduce troop presence of 3000 by December 2023, adding that this will  contribute to the ongoing Somalia Security transition plan.”

The  Sector One commander Brig Gen Peter Gaetano Omola, informed guests that sector one is greatly honoured and privileged to handover the most vital installations which they have fervently been protecting for the last 16 years.

UPDF soldiers hand over VIP protection to Somalia forces 

He enumerated UPDF successful operations right from March 2007, which include dislodging Al-Shabaab in various locations to protecting vital installations, and providing VVIPs protection, among others.

Also Read: We mistook al-Shabaab for farmers, says UPDF survivors of Somalia attack

“We have diligently and proudly offered VVIPs security protection to five Presidents, entire state house staff and to some extent the presidents of the Federal Member States,” said Brig Gen Omola.

He reported that Somalia Security Forces (SSF) is effectively manning the FOBs that were handed over in phase one ATMIS drawdown.

UPDF soldiers hand over VIP protection to Somalia forces 

“ This is a testimony for the continued confidence that the Somalia Security Forces will be in position to take over security responsibility of their country.“

He thanked the Somali community for the hospitality and cooperation exhibited through the years that has enabled the forces to perform.

Other dignitaries who witnessed the handover included; Catriona Laing United Nations Special Representative, Lt Gen Sam Okiding ATMIS Force Commander,  Qurat Sadozal Officer in charge of UNSOS, Col George Nkasah Chief Plans Officer, among others.