KAMPALA, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- The first batch of Ugandan peacekeeping troops withdrawing from Somalia have arrived home, a military spokesman said here on Thursday.
Lt. Col. Deo Akiiki, Ugandan deputy army spokesman, told Xinhua in an interview that the troops who have been serving under African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) began trickling back home in small batches on Wednesday.
"The troops are coming in batches and rotational exercise. We expect the exercise to be complete in about two to three weeks time," said Akiiki.
Uganda on Monday announced the withdrawal of 281 peacekeepers as part of condition-based drawdown of its over 6,000 troops deployed in the Horn of Africa country.
Uganda's phased withdrawal of its peacekeepers from the 22,000 strong regional force is in compliance with the African Union and United Nations approved reduction of 1,000 uniformed personnel of AMISOM by the Dec. 31 deadline.
In August 2017, the UN Security Council extended the mandate of AMISOM until May 31, 2018, and approved a reduction of its uniformed personnel to a maximum 21,626 by Dec. 31, 2017, with an eye toward the gradual handover of responsibilities to Somali security forces.
Special Representative of the African Union Chairperson for Somalia Francisco Madeira announced last month that some 1,000 soldiers from the 22,000 strong regional force will be withdrawn from the Horn of Africa country by Dec. 31.
The phased withdrawal of troops and gradual handover of security responsibilities will be based on the ability of the Somali National Security Forces to ably take over the country's security.
AMISOM is comprised of troops drawn from Uganda, Burundi, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti.
As part of the military drawdown, the pan-African body will deploy an extra 500 police officers to strengthen training and mentoring for Somali police.