The Force Commander of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), Lieutenant General Diomede Ndegeya, has paid a working visit to AMISOM troops in Sector 5, in Jowhar, as part of his familiarization tour of all the six sectors that form AMISOM.
Troops from the Burundi National Defense Force (BNDF), serving under AMISOM are in charge of sector 5, which is headquartered in Jowhar, HirShabelle state of Somalia, about 90km from Mogadishu.
Lt. Gen. Ndegeya, who assumed command of the force recently, was received in Jowhar on Sunday by the Sector 5 Commander, Brig. Gen. Richard Banyakinbona and other AMISOM officials.
The Force Commander inspected a guard-of-honour mounted by AMISOM troops, and later held a closed-door security meeting with the sector commander and other senior military officers.
Addressing the officers, Lt. Gen. Ndegeya applauded BNDF for the unwavering commitment and bravery they exuded in 2011 when fighting alongside Ugandan AMISOM troops and the Somali National Army (SNA), they liberated the Somali capital, Mogadishu and ejected the Al-Shabaab from the city.
"The Burundi National Defense Forces were the second AMISOM peace-keepers to be deployed to Somalia in 2007, and took an active role in the liberation of Mogadishu. Notable areas liberated by the Burundi National Defense Forces together with Somali National Army include 'Gashaandhigga' the Ministry of Defence, Jaale Siyaad Military Academy, Bakara market, the military hospital, the African village which was the venue of the African Union Summit held in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1975," said Lt. Gen. Ndegeya.
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The Force Commander noted that Somalia had played an instrumental role in the maintenance of regional peace in the past and that it was time for the rest of Africa to reciprocate.
"Somalia used to be a 'big brother' in Africa, and not only supported Burundi but also many other African countries, especially the South African Republic during the apartheid liberation war. It is, therefore, our turn to return the favour and help bring peace to Somalia, as we already have done," Gen. Ndegeya said.
He commended Sector 5 for their operations in the Middle Shabelle region, saying they have proved to be a lifeline for many, and urged them to continue working closely with Somali security agencies and the local administration in order to rid the area of any threats and secure the main supply routes in the region.
Oh his part, the Sector 5 Commander, Brig. Gen. Richard Banyakinbona, thanked the Force Commander for making the effort to touch base with the troops and know their needs firsthand.
"We sincerely thank you and acknowledge your loyalty in supporting our efforts to achieve the AMISOM mandate in Somalia," Brig. Gen. Banyakinbona said.