World Bulletin/News Desk
The Ugandan army is questioning 24 of its personnel serving in the African Union's peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM) on charges of selling supplies, not arms, to Somalis.
"We are not investigating the sale of weapons at the moment," Ugandan military spokesperson Lt .Col. Paddy Ankunda told Anadolu Agency in a phone interview.
"The soldiers who have been arrested are being investigated for the alleged sale of fuel and food," he added.
Ankunda said he had read reports about some Ugandan peacekeepers selling arms and ammunitions, which might have found its way to Al-Shabaab militants.
"But we are not investigating those reports because there is no credible evidence yet."
A group of soldiers returning from Somalia had met Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni last week and briefed him on the challenges they were facing there.
"We went to Somalia to fight Al-Shabaab and restore peace, but, shockingly, some of our commanders have been selling our ammunition, weapons and fuel to the enemy," one soldier told AA over the phone, seeking anonymity for not being authorized to talk to the media.
"We were very happy to have met with the president, who is our commander in-chief," asserted the soldier.
"We are glad he gave us [an] audience and listened to our complaints," he added.
President Museveni reportedly promised the soldiers to investigation the claim and hold culprits accountable.
Uganda, a landlocked East African nation, boasts the largest contingent currently serving in AMISOM.
It was the first African country to deploy troops to help fight Somalia's Al-Shabaab insurgency in 2007.
Asked if the allegations would affect the credibility of the peacekeeping mission, Ankunda stressed that only individuals had been accused of wrongdoing.
"This is not the policy of the UPDF [Uganda People's Defense Forces]; that's why we are taking the investigations seriously," said the military spokesperson.
"The UPDF have good credibility as peacekeepers in the region."
Andre Roux, a senior research fellow at the Conflict Management and Peace Building Division of the Institute for Security Studies, urged Ugandan officials and AMISOM to look into the latest allegations.
"The rumors need to first be investigated, and if found to be true then appropriate action should be taken," he told AA by phone from Pretoria.
"If these claims are found to be true, then it will damage the credibility of the peacekeeping mission," he said.
In spite of the corruption allegations, Roux praised AMISOM, which, he said, had succeeded in restoring relative order in Somalia.
"With all the challenges, AMISOM has tried its best in pushing the radical Al-Shabaab militants from major cities of Somalia," he said.