MOGADISHU, Somalia — Brigadier General Keith Katungi has formally taken up office as the new contingent commander of Ugandan troops serving under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
Brig. Gen. Katungi succeeds Brig. Gen. Don Nabasa, who has completed his one-year tour of duty in Somalia. The handing over took place at a colourful ceremony presided over by Uganda’s Deputy Chief of Land forces, Major. Gen Sam Okiding in Mogadishu on Friday.
At the event, Maj. Gen. Okiding hailed the outgoing contingent commander and his team for their contribution to the mission’s objectives of restoring peace in Somalia.
“So, ndugu (brother) Don, I want to thank you. You have done a wonderful job. I am sure ndugu (brother) Keith, what you need is to be strong. Sometimes strong decisions are painful but also they are necessary because they save the institution,” said Maj. Gen. Okiding.
In a wide-ranging speech hinged on professionalism and discipline, Maj. Gen. Okiding called for teamwork, commitment to Pan Africanism, urged the soldiers to be good ambassadors of Uganda and Africa, and work towards a peaceful exit from Somalia, when the time comes.
Brig. Gen. Katungi is not new to Somalia and brings a wealth of experience with him, having first served in Somalia in 2010-2011 where he was instrumental in the capture of Mogadishu, particularly Bondere and Yaqshid districts, and later in 2016/2017 as the contingent commander of the United Nations Guard Unit (UNGU).
In his acceptance speech, Brig. Gen. Katungi, pledged teamwork, to rely heavily on intelligence, maintain good relations with partners and enhance good relations with the local communities which he said is critical for the success of the AU mission.
“We shall aspire to continue winning the hearts and minds because minus the hearts and minds of the Somalis we can’t do much. We are here to help them in the context of pan-Africanism,” Brig. Gen. Katungi said.
The new Uganda contingent commander thanked the UPDF leadership for appointing him to lead Ugandan troops in Somalia and pledged to uphold the Ugandan and AU flags.
“The AU motto is very clear. It is to have an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa. So, we are here as Sector 1 Uganda to have a prosperous and peaceful Somalia.”
In his remarks, outgoing contingent commander, Brig. Gen. Nabasa noted that Uganda has always been the flag bearer of AMISOM and urged his successor, Brig. Gen. Katungi to maintain the tempo of operations to enable the mission achieve its mandate.
Present at the ceremony were Uganda’s Defence Attache to Somalia, Maj. Gen. Dr. Lucky Kidega, the incoming Deputy Contingent Commander of Ugandan troops in Somalia, Colonel David Opeero, Battle Group Commanders, Assets and Component Commanders and international partners.