There is a new shed of doubt that the United Nations will compensate the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) for the three helicopters that went down in Kenyan airspace in 2012.
Uganda may never be compensated for the three MI-24 military choppers worth over 26 billion shillings, according to General Katumba Wamala, the Chief of Defence Forces. In an interview at Mbuya army headquarters, General Wamala said he had given up hope that the UN will compensate them for the three choppers.
Wamala’s reasoning was that the UN had written to them indicating that they would only pay if the UPDF proved that the choppers had entered the mission area in Somalia.
The UN concession to pay for the choppers based on the fulfillment of these conditions was arrived at after rigorous meetings and debates at the African Union offices in Ethiopia.
Sources who attended the meetings in Addis Ababa say the UPDF was asked to show proof that the choppers had entered the mission area or at the very least that they were sanctioned by the then commander of AMISOM Lieutenant General Andrew Gutti on the fateful day of their flight.
These conditions, it is said, are the only hurdle to complete before the UN pays the 10 million dollar compensation fee for the three MI-24 helicopters.
The three choppers crashed in Mount Kenya ranges in August 2012 on their way to beef up an AMISOM offensive against Al Shabaab in the war-torn Somalia. Seven UPDF soldiers were killed and 24 others injured.
Of the four helicopters that left Uganda on August 11th 2012, only one of them landed in the Kenyan town of Wajir from where it connected to Somalia.
They were part of force enablers that were to be used by AMISOM in ‘Operation Eagle’ an operation that was to weaken the Al-shabaab in areas of Baidoa. The choppers were also to help in air surveillance in the ‘Operation Indian Ocean’
A team of UPDF soldiers had earlier valued the helicopters and sent a bill of 26.5 billion shillings to the UN for compensation and the UN had agreed to pay the sum. However, correspondences between the army and the AU later showed that the UN had requested for UPDF to ‘satisfy’ the compensations commission that the choppers had been on mission.
Asked about the back and forth meetings and whether they could be confirmed, General Katumba
Wamala said they had indeed had meetings with the AU and the UN and the resolution was still that the three MI-24 choppers had not yet been committed as mission assets.
The United Nations caters for the transfer of ammunition of the UPDF in Somalia; in return the force is required to protect key government installations and diffuse the threat of the terror group Al-Shabaab. The African Union acts as the go-between for the UPDF and the UN.
The UPDF, locally, has not yet published their findings into what caused the choppers to crash.
A committee led by the presidential military adviser, General Salim Saleh, reported to parliament’s defence committee that they had completed investigations into the matter and submitted a report to President Yoweri Museveni.
The President has however never talked about it publicly, or sent the findings to Parliament.