Somali minister's arrest blunder puts Uganda in tight situation

Kampala- Uganda (PANA) -- Tuesday's â~mistakenâ? arrest of Somali Junior Defenc e Minister Youssuf Mohamed Siad by Uganda's supreme intelligence organ Chieftain c y of Military Intelligence (CMI) puts the leader of the land-locked East African nation, Yoweri Museveni, in a tight situation, considering his country's peaceke e ping role in Somalia, analysts said.
Siad, a powerful Mogadishu warlord and former member of Islamic Courts Union whi ch ruled the country in 2006, was treated with suspicion because of his past rol e in the Horn of African nation, intelligence sources said.
Security analysts said they believe his arrest must have been done with the full knowledge of President Museveni, thus complicating matters for Ugandan troops s e rving in Somalia, some of whom have already come under attack from Islamists.
â?The arrest and immediate release of the Somali minister can only be described as an â~uncoordinated movement of troops, a euphemism for regrettable and embar rassing government actionâ?,â? said Asuman Bissika, a political commentator.
â?As an observer of security and political trends in the region, I have encount ered this shoot-first-aim-later kind of scenario.
Sometimes there is always a fo r eign hand pushing the government to act, leaving the governmentâ?s hand burnt,'' he said.
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Bissika, a keen observer of regional geopolitics and security, added: â?But the n diplomacy is an organic creature, I guess the Uganda government will regenerat e the injured part and move on.
In diplomacy, it takes a public apology for parti e s to move on.
In normal circumstances, the Ugandan government would have first i n formed the Somali President before the arrest of his minister.
â? PANA learnt that Siad had entered Uganda by road from neighbouring Kenya, raisin g suspicions of security officials who are on high alert as the East African cou n try prepares for the African Union heads of state summit on refugees and interna l ly displace persons in three weeks' time.
"He was mistakenly arrested near a mosque after prayers late Tuesday and release d this morning (Wednesday),â? Army Spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Felix Kulayigye confirmed.
â?Once we realised who he was, he was not treated as a prisoner.
He was held co mfortably throughout the night,â? the spokesman added.
When pressed to give the reason why the elite CMI arrest the minister, Kulayigye merely said: â?It was a mistake.
â? Government spokesman Fred Opolot said the administration would issue a statement on the matter later, noting â?as of now, it is the security authorities (that a re) handling it.
â? Some Ugandan public commentators said the arrest puts Uganda in a precarious sit uation with the international community and casts a doubt on the African Union p e acekeeping mission it (Uganda) leads in the Horn of Africa state.
â?It puts President Museveni in a difficult situation.
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concerning whether our army in Somalia is really neutral,â? Hope Kabweru, a 29-year-old lawyer, said.
Speaking in the same vein, Richard Todwong, a businessman, condemned the arrest, which he called a crude way of doing things.
â?This complicates our role in Somalia.
(Because) the transitional government i s a collection of erstwhile enemies, some will use this ugly act to (accuse) the peace keeping mission of partisanship.
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07 october 2009 11:39:00




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