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African Union summit begins
Uganda, JUL 19 (Agencies):
Published on 19 Jul. 2010 10:15 PM IST
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African leaders are gathering in Uganda for the opening of a major African Union summit only a week after twin bombings killed 76 people during the World Cup final.
Sam Kutesa, Uganda’s foreign minister, told delegates from 49 nations Monday that their arrival “shows that terrorists cannot defeat us.” He called on African states and the world at large to fight against terrorism.
Most African heads of state will be in Uganda between July 25 and 27. The summit will focus on peace and security, infrastructure, energy and food security.
The Somali militant group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the July 11 bombings in two locations in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, during the World Cup final. Somalia Centre Stage at AU Summit
Amid heightened security following twin bomb attacks a week earlier, the official theme of child and maternal mortality will likely be overshadowed by discussion of the AU’s mission in Somalia. The blasts, which killed at least 74 people and wounded 82 others watching the World Cup finals on big screens at the Ethiopian Village Restaurant in Kampala’s Kabalagala neighbourhood and at the Kyaddondo rugby grounds.
The attacks came just two days after a spokesperson for Somalia’s al-Shabaab group, which is fighting against the weak Transitional Federal Government (TFG) for control of the country, said Uganda would be targeted for its role in the conflict.
Some analysts argue that a troop surge will achieve little, pointing to the difficulties faced by Ethiopia. Ethiopian soldiers entered Somalia in December 2006 to push back the Union of Islamic Courts, an Islamist group with ambitions to establish sharia law in Somalia, from which al-Shabaab subsequently emerged. But while the UIC’s bid for control was halted, this larger force was unable to fully capture the capital or impose itself in the countryside; the Ethiopians pulled out and were replaced by the Ugandan-dominated AMISOM.
Makerere University political scientist Yassin Olum believes it is time for Uganda to review its position in Somalia, with a view to withdrawing.
“We have to ask ourselves why other African countries are not sending troops to Somalia. Maybe they have realised it’s a hot potato or they view it as an internal matter,” says Olum. Targeting the AU mission in Somalia
Uganda contributes the majority of the 5,000 troops in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which has helped the TFG maintain a tenuous hold over parts of the capital, Mogadishu, but little more.
The official theme of the summit is “Maternal, Infant and Child Health and Development in Africa,” but consideration of this development goal seems likely to suffer the same fate as previous themes on water and sanitation and promotion of agriculture: a formal declaration will be made, but the summit will be dominated by al-Shabaab’s bombing of Uganda, the leading contributor of troops to the AU’s mission in Somalia.

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