Uganda army 'sets up rapid response centre'

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Uganda has troops in the AU force in Somalia and has been tracking LRA rebels across central Africa

Uganda has set up a rapid response centre to get soldiers operational as soon as possible to intervene in regional conflicts, an official says.

The way its forces recently deployed to South Sudan to fight rebels was an example of how it could work, he said.

The BBC's Catherine Byaruhanga says Uganda may want to be involved in similar missions in the future.

The African Union has been planning to create a rapid reaction force but has yet to finalise the proposals.

Ugandan troops deployed to South Sudan in December to fight alongside government forces after a political dispute escalated into full-scale conflict, with reports of ethnic killings.

Col Felix Kulayigye, political commissar for the Ugandan army, said the intention was for its forces to be a "provider of peace in the region" by deploying within 14 days to trouble hotspots.

"No other country has done what we've done in South Sudan," he told Uganda's Radio One station.

"In a few days we were on the ground to secure Juba airport and everybody else benefitted from that deployment - that capability is what Africa has been lacking."

He said the rapid response centre had been built so the region did not have to "wait for Europe or the United States to do the deployment when Africans are dying".

Our reporter says Ugandan soldiers have been fairly active in Africa and are part of the AU force in Somalia.

Uganda recently had troops in the Central African Republic tracking down members of the Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army rebel group.

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