AU Force Commander visits combat troops in Somalia

MOGADISHU, Somalia – The new African Union Head of Mission, Lieutenant General Diomede Ndegeya, visited Soldiers serving in Sector V of AMISOM in Jowhar, HirShabelle State, as part of his ongoing proclamation around the country over a month after taking power.

Soldiers from the Burundi National Defense Forces [BNDF] serve in sector V of AMISOM, headquartered in Jowhar, the regional administrative capital of HirShabelle. The city is located at least 90 KM north of Mogadishu, the Somali capital.

Lieutenant Ndegeya, who recently took control of the force, was received in Jowhar on Sunday by Sector 5 Commander, Brig. General Richard Banyakinbona and other AMISOM officials. He is also a member of the BNDF, where he has risen to the three-star general.

He inspected an honor guard mounted by AMISOM troops and later held a closed-door security meeting with the sector chief and other senior military officers. This was his second privacy trip after visiting Ugandan people’s defense forces two weeks ago.

Lieutenant General Ndegeya welcomes the BNDF for the unwavering commitment and bravery they radiated in 2011 as they fought alongside Ugandan AMISOM troops and the Somali National Army (SNA), liberated the Somali capital, Mogadishu, and shot Al-Shabaab out of the city.

“Burundi’s national defense forces were the second AMISOM peacekeepers deployed to Somalia in 2007 and took an active role in the liberation of Mogadishu,” he was quoted as saying by AMISOM.

Notable areas liberated by the Burundi National Defense Forces along with the Somali National Army include the ‘Gashaandhigga’ Ministry of Defense, Jaale Siyaad Military Academy, Bakara Market, the Military Hospital, the African Village which was the seat of the African Union Summit in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1975, He added.

Director-General Ndegeya noted that Somalia had previously played an important role in maintaining regional peace and that it was time for the rest of Africa to retaliate. Before the Somali army plunged into chaos, it had participated in peacekeeping missions, particularly in Burundi and Mozambique.

“Somalia used to be a ‘big brother’ in Africa and supported not only Burundi but also many other African countries, especially the South African Republic during the war of liberation for apartheid. It is therefore our turn to return and help create peace in Somalia, as we have already done, ”he noted.

He praised Sector 5 for their operations in the Middle Shabelle region and said they have proved to be a lifeline for many, urging them to continue working closely with Somali security agencies and the local administration to rid the area of ​​any threat and secure the main supply routes in the region.

Oh his part, Sector 5 Commander, Brig. General Richard Banyakinbona thanked the Force Commander for making an effort to get in touch with the troops and know their needs first hand.

“We sincerely thank you and acknowledge your loyalty in our support for achieving the AMISOM mandate in Somalia,” Brig said. General Banyakinbona said, adding that the troops have significantly dismantled the Al-Shabaab militants in HirShabelle.

Al-Shabaab has struggled to overthrow the fragile UN-backed Somalia government, which has been in place for decades. The militants control large parts of southern and central Somalia in the countryside, but have lost ground significantly in recent months.