Uganda calls on Africa to fight terror

A top United States official has pledged continued support for African peacekeeping efforts in war-torn Somalia, as Uganda’s president urged African leaders to unite against terrorism just weeks after Somali militants set off deadly twin bombings in Uganda.

President Yoweri Museveni told 35 heads of state who convened in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, for an African Union summit on Sunday that the continent needed to step up its efforts against terror.

“Let us work in concert to sweep [terrorists] out of Africa,” he said.

The July 11 bombings in Kampala were claimed by an al-Qaeda-linked militant group in Somalia. The group, al-Shabaab, said the attacks were in retaliation for civilian deaths caused by AU peacekeepers in Somalia. Al-Shabaab has also called on Somalis to fight AU peacekeepers.

US Attorney General Eric Holder, the top US representative at the summit, said the U. will continue to support AU peacekeeping efforts in Somalia.

The AU mission in Somalia has about 6 000 troops from Uganda and Burundi, but the force is expected to rise after Guinea and Djibouti pledged additional forces.

“The United States applauds the heroic contributions that are being made on a daily basis by Uganda and Burundian troops,” Holder said. “We pledge to maintain our support for the AU and the AU mission in Somalia.”

Holder condemned the bombings in Uganda and said a forensic team from the FBI is helping Ugandan authorities with the investigation.

“Make no mistake, these attacks were nothing more than reprehensible acts of cowardice inspired by a radical and corrupt ideology,” Holder said.

Museveni also told leaders his government had arrested suspected organisers of the bombings and that interrogations were yielding “good information”.

First attack outside Somalia
The bombings were al-Shabaab’s first attack outside Somalia, where last year they claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack, among others, on a base of AU troops protecting the weak UN-backed Somali government.

Both men spoke at a summit that planned to focus on health issues, peace and security, infrastructure, energy and food security. But the twin bombings two weeks ago and the conflict in Somalia are likely to dominate many discussions at the three-day summit.

Somalia has not had a functioning government for 20 years. The current administration holds a few blocks of the capital and has been hampered by squabbling and corruption.

The president recently reshuffled the Cabinet but many of the same officials remain and it is unclear how the new administration intends to provide services or security.

The US and the European Union have spent millions of dollars to train 2 000 Somali government soldiers at bases in Uganda, but the programme’s success was questioned after a group of Somali soldiers trained in Djibouti deserted because they were not paid.

Holder also announced on Sunday that his office is forming a new initiative to combat large-scale foreign official corruption.

African countries are frequently criticised for corruption, and Somalia has been named the world’s most corrupt country by Transparency International.

Somalia’s weak government is fighting an Islamist insurgency that is itself riven by divisions. Al-Shabaab, the strongest insurgent group, has pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden, and the US State Department says some of its leaders have links to al-Qaeda.

Intelligence sources say hundreds of extremist foreign fighters are operating in the failed state. Many of them are Somalis with dual nationalities and diplomats fear they may one day launch an attack on the West.

Many of the fighters have experience in the battlefields of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, international officials say. — Sapa-AP

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.


Coalition politics and law: The fight over Tshwane

With coalition politics on the rise, particularly in local government, this kind of court case is likely to become more common

High court declares Dudu Myeni delinquent

Disgraced former SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni has been declared a delinquent director by the...

SANDF inquiry clears soldiers of the death of Collins Khosa

The board of inquiry also found that it was Khosa and his brother-in-law Thabiso Muvhango who caused the altercation with the defence force members

No back to school for teachers just yet

Last week the basic education minister was adamant that teachers will return to school on May 25, but some provinces say not all Covid-19 measures are in place to prevent its spread

Press Releases

Openview, now powered by two million homes

The future of free-to-air satellite TV is celebrating having two million viewers by giving away two homes worth R2-million

Road to recovery for the tourism sector: The South African perspective

The best-case scenario is that South Africa's tourism sector’s recovery will only begin in earnest towards the end of this year

What Africa can learn from Cuba in combating the Covid-19 pandemic

Africa should abandon the neoliberal path to be able to deal with Covid-19 and other health system challenges likely to emerge in future

Coexisting with Covid-19: Saving lives and the economy in India

A staggered exit from the lockdown accompanied by stepped-up testing to cover every district is necessary for India right now

Covid-19: Eased lockdown and rule of law Webinar

If you are arrested and fined in lockdown, you do get a criminal record if you pay the admission of guilt fine

Covid-19 and Frontline Workers

Who is caring for the healthcare workers? 'Working together is how we are going to get through this. It’s not just a marathon, it’s a relay'.

PPS webinar Part 2: Small business, big risk

The risks that businesses face and how they can be dealt with are something all business owners should be well acquainted with

Call for applications for the position of GCRO executive director

The Gauteng City-Region Observatory is seeking to appoint a high-calibre researcher and manager to be the executive director and to lead it

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday