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Uganda threatens peacekeeper pullout from Somalia

Uganda has threatened to withdraw its peacekeepers from Somalia if the United Nations Security Council accepts an expert panel's report that links Uganda and Rwanda to rebels in eastern Congo.

Ugandan Security Minister Wilson Mukasa accused the report's authors of "maligning" his country, which provides a third of the 17,600 UN-mandated troops in Somalia. In recent months, the African Union-led mission AMISOM has driven al Shabaab Islamist militants from Somalian urban centers, notably Mogadishu and Kismayu. The mission also includes Burundian and Kenyan troops.

The UN report, leaked last month, accused Uganda and Rwanda of supporting the so-called M23 rebel group located in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo and commanded by Bosco Ntaganda, a warlord indicted by the International Criminal Court.

The panel, which monitors compliance with UN sanctions and arms embargoes, said in its 44-page report that Rwandan officials had helped set up the rebel movement while M23's political branch had been allowed to operate in Uganda's capital, Kampala.

Uganda and Rwanda have repeatedly denied the accusations.

Further withdrawals also threatened

Mukasa said Uganda was also considering withdrawals of its peacekeepers from the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Ugandan soldiers, backed by US special forces, are also involved in the hunt for the fugitive Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony in the Central African Republic.

Ugandan army spokesman Felix Kulayigye said a withdrawal order had not been issued but "we'll not stay an extra day in Somalia when we get that order."

A London-based Somali analyst Hamza Mohamed told the news agency Reuters that he believed "things would be quietly settled behind closed doors".

"It's just politics and playing to the gallery. They won't pull out," Mohamed said, referring to Uganda's troops in Somalia.

ipj/ch (dpa, AP, Reuters)

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