Uganda, Ethiopia deny selling arms to Somali rebels

May 25th, 2008 - 3:18 pm ICT by admin  

Kampala, May 25 (Xinhua) Uganda and Ethiopia denied accusations by a UN panel that their troops in Somalia have been selling weapons to local insurgents. Earlier this week, a UN panel had accused Ugandan officers in the African Union peacekeeping force, which also groups Ethiopian and Somali commanders, of selling weapons to Islamist rebels in violation of a 1992 arms embargo.

The UN panel has been in Somalia reviewing the 1992 arms embargo placed on the country after it descended into anarchy following the ouster of military strongman Mohamed Siad Barre.

The Ethiopian foreign ministry Saturday denied the charges, saying its troops had instead been helping in curbing arms theft.

“The claims that Ethiopian troops are supplying Shabab (Islamist insurgents) have no plausibility,” the ministry said in a statement.

Ethiopian troops have in fact played an important role in preventing the theft of arms and ammunition in recent months, it added.

A Ugandan army spokesman also rejected the accusations, saying it is absolutely “ridiculous”, as they couldn’t sell arms to “people who shoot at us”.

Ethiopia deployed thousands of troops in Somalia in late 2006 to help the Somali government oust the Islamic Courts movement from the south. Uganda currently has 1,600 troops in the Somali capital of Mogadishu.

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