Uganda Bombings Take Precedence at AU Summit

By Susan Stipanovich, Center for Strategic Research

The 15th African Union Summit is currently taking place, from the 19th to the 27th of July in Uganda.  The summit is being held in Munyonyo, about 12 kilometers south of the Ugandan capital of Kampala, which was the site of twin bombings at viewings of the World Cup two weeks ago on the 11th of July.  Though the theme of the summit focused on health and development, reports emerging from the conference indicate that the recent bombings have taken precedence in the discussion for the diplomats in attendance.  A moment of silence was observed in honor of those killed by the attacks, which were credited to the Islamist extremist group Al Shabaab, based in Somalia.  The attacks have led to speculation about the strength of Al Shabaab, who have never before committed an attack outside of Somalia. 

African Union Leaders at the Uganda Summit Some argue that the attack was planned and carried out under weakness, but many reports and observations imply otherwise.  It is widely believed by experts in the field that Al Shabaab’s greatest advantage is the weak Transitional Federal Government in Somalia, which has failed to provide viable governance and protection for Somali citizens. 

 “The recent bombings in Kampala have changed things greatly. We have just witnessed AU leadership during the opening of the summit today paying more attention on terrorism coming (from) Somalia,” Adris Piebalgs, European Union commissioner for development said.  U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder also spoke at the summit, saying the United States “recognizes that ending the threat of al-Shabaab to the world will take more than just law enforcement. That is why we are working closely with the AU to support the African Union’s mission in Somalia … we pledge to maintain our support.” 

Perhaps the unfortunate attacks will raise awareness and action towards the growing threat of terrorism emerging from the Horn of Africa, a front in the ‘War on Terror’ that has received little mainstream attention. 

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