A fresh memo from the United Nations Monitoring Group has raised concerns that the Somali National Army could be diverting weapons delivered to them by the Uganda People’s Defence Forces—UPDF.
The memo addressed to the Security Council committee on the Arms embargo in Somalia notes that deliveries of 1000 AK-47 rifles that left Uganda in July 2013 destined for the Somalia National Army Artillery unit at Halane in Mogadishu, could not be accounted for by the Army chiefs of the war-torn country.
The guns were part of a batch of weapon deliveries to be made by the UPDF to the Somalia National army. An export note S/AC.29/2013/NOTE.63 confirms the weapons left Uganda for Halane Artillery unit, however, the Army couldn’t account for them.
The memo has raised questions of whether elements of the Somalia national army have been diverting the weapons to feed into the lucrative arms market in the country. Other countries that have suffered the diversion of arms are Djibouti and Ethiopia.
When contacted, the UPDF spokesperson, Lt Col Paddy Ankunda requested for more time to read the report and then respond. By the time of filing this report, he had not yet responded.
The memo notes that the Somalia National Army has elements that are involved in arms dealings with terrorist group Al-shabaab and clan heads in the war-torn country.
Senior military officers of the Somalia National Army told the UN experts that a section of the army allied to the Ab-gaal clan of President Hassan Sheikh Mahmood was diverting weapons to fuel the clan wars that are currently on-going. However, some of the weapons are ending up in Al-shabaab hands.
The allegations of diversion of Ugandan arms are not new. A UN report authored last year implicated Ugandan officers in the selling of arms on the black market in Somalia. Brigadier Michael Ondoga, the former Ugandan contingent head was then suspended and brought back for trial in the military court martial. He has however denied the allegations.
Uganda and Djibouti are among the countries with forces in Somalia to help restore peace after more than two decades of war and absence of central authority. Other troop-contributing countries under the African Union include Kenya, Burundi, Sierra Leone and Ethiopia.