President Yoweri Museveni says Ugandan soldiers being deployed to Somalia,
will not disarm militias.
Mr Museveni, who bade farewell to 1,700 troops at a ceremony in Jinja, said
they will train the Somali army, help the government, but not impose peace.
An advance team of African Union (AU) troops reportedly arrived in Baidoa
in southern Somalia on Thursday.
Some 8,000 AU peacekeepers are to be sent to Somalia to replace Ethiopian
troops, who ousted Islamists last year.
We will not go to Somalia to impose peace but to help empower them rebuild
Somalia enjoyed a six-month lull in the insecurity that has dogged the country
for the last 16 years when the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) was in power.
But violence has escalated in the past two months.
So far only half of the 8,000-strong force promised have been contributed
by AU member states.
Nigeria has said its 850 soldiers will be deployed from the middle of April
in three phases. Other countries that have pledged to send troops are Ghana
"We will not go to Somalia to impose peace on the Somalis, because we
shouldn’t do that and we can’t do it," President Museveni said to his
AU FORCE IN SOMALIA
"What we are going to do in Somalia is to empower our Somali brothers
to rebuild their state."
But Somalia’s government spokesman, Hussein Mahmoud Mohammed, has warned that
unless AU troops lead the disarmament process the killings will continue.
An insurgency in the capital, launched by suspected Islamists, appears to
be making its mark, with daily attacks – often targeting Ethiopian forces.
More than 10,000 civilians have fled Mogadishu in the past two weeks, the
United Nations estimates.
Officials have blamed the rise in violence on the high number of weapons available.
There have been several protests against the deployment of AU forces in Somalia,
even though many Somalis are keen to see the departure of Ethiopian forces
as quickly as possible.
Islamist insurgents have warned that foreign peacekeepers are not welcome
Uganda officials say a tank battalion leaving Jinja in eastern Uganda is expected
to head to Somalia’s capital via the Kenya port city of Mombasa while infantry
units will be flying to Somalia next week.