U.S. expects Ugandan peacekeepers to stay in Somalia

Mon Nov 5, 2012 4:51pm GMT

By Drazen Jorgic

NAIROBI (Reuters) - The United States expects Uganda to keep its peacekeeping forces in Somalia despite a threat to withdraw in protest at a U.N. report, a senior State Department official said on Monday.

The government in Kampala said on Friday it would pull out of peacekeeping missions in Africa unless the United Nations amends a report accusing it of supporting rebels in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

Wendy Sherman, under secretary of state for political affairs, who met Yoweri Museveni last week, said the Ugandan president had raised concerns about the U.N. report but that she expected him to keep peacekeeping troops on the ground.

Ugandan troops account for more than a third of the 17,600 U.N.-mandated African peacekeepers battling al Qaeda-linked Islamist rebels in Somalia, and their withdrawal could hand an advantage to the weakened al Shabaab rebels.

Backed by U.S. special forces, the soldiers are also leading the hunt for fugitive Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony in Central African Republic, with some stationed in South Sudan.

"I fully expect because of (Museveni's) commitment to peace and security in the region that Uganda will continue to play the leadership role it has, both diplomatically and in terms of military security," Sherman told reporters in Nairobi.

Uganda and Rwanda have denied accusations in a leaked U.N. Group of Experts report which said the two neighbours were arming Congo's M23 rebels, whose warlord leader has been indicted by the International Criminal Court.

The experts called for sanctions on those who violated an arms embargo.   Continued...

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