(eTN) – Monday saw the long-awaited African Union Summit kick off with ministerial and panel of expert meetings, as the one-week-long period of national mourning over the suicide bombings that occured in Kamapala, Uganda, on 7/11 came to an end.
Security is very tight, as witnessed along the main road from the city to the Commonwealth Resort in Munyonyo, which leads along the area where this correspondent resides. Traffic police and roaming police patrol vehicles have been supplemented by elite army units, and the presidential protection detail is out in force at the venue and the wider surrounding area to prevent any mischief by enemies of the country who may wish to disrupt the proceedings. Hotels in Kampala have also put up the “no vacancy” signs, as every available bed between Entebbe and Kampala has been taken up, to the delight of hotel operators, who stand to reap big from this major continental conference over the next ten days.
In view of the bombings that took place in Uganda on 7/11, the issue of security in Somalia has been pushed up on the agenda and information received indicates an initial 20,000 troops will be sent there as part of the African Union’s present peacekeeping contingent. Requests will also be sent to the United Nations (UN) to make this a mission of their own. Uganda may send as many as another 2,000 troops at an early stage to boost numbers on the ground, following President Museveni’s angry reaction to the al-Shabab background of the suicide bombers. It was also learned that an additional 5,000 recruits will be taken in to strengthen the Uganda Police in the coming months, giving them a greater range for surveillance and security operations in the capital city, urban centers, and across the entire country.
While the official theme of the summit focuses on women’s issues and child health, a range of security-related as well as economic and political issues are ranked high on the summit’s agenda. The continental meeting will last until July 29 with heads of state due to arrive progressively over the next few days’ time.
No cancellations by any delegation were reported at the time of going to press over security concerns, as has been suggested in sections of the local and regional media, giving a firm sign of solidarity with Uganda, which the nation gratefully accepts.