The Uganda People’s Defense Forces have come out dismiss media reports about Maj Gen Francis Okello who was reported to be sick.
The General is in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa as part of the team overseeing African Union Mandated Peace Support Operations including AMISOM and the G5 Sahel Joint Force operating in Mali.
The Observer newspaper, quoting an unnamed source, claimed Maj Gen Okello has been stranded in “bad health” in Ethiopia, unable to come home because of the Covid19 lockdown.
The paper quoted the source expressing concern on how such a senior army officer couldn’t be flown home yet some select rich Ugandans were able to secure a repatriation flight from the same city (Addis Ababa) for their family members.
“Can you imagine Maj Gen Francis Okello of the African Union Commission is in bad health and wants to return but has not been granted an opportunity?” the paper quoted the source.
However, UPDF’s spokesman Richard Karemire dismissed the paper’s claims and warned the media against “drawing members of the UPDF into propaganda”.
Karemire told Chimpreports that Gen Okello was in perfect health and didn’t need any medical attention as reported.
“He is healthy at his station in Addis Ababa contrary to reports in The Observer,” Karemire said.
“His name, and by inference the UPDF, should therefore not be drawn into any negative writing and propaganda by any section of the media. Family and friends should not be anxious over such false stories,” warned the army mouthpiece.
Gen Okello previously served as the second commander of AMISOM from 3 March 2008 to the end of his tour of duty in 2009, after which he returned to the army headquarters in Bombo.
Earlier on, he served as Commandant Uganda Rapid Deployment Capability Centre under the African Standby Force and also Commander of the Ugandan Contingent to the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises Force.
As Chief of the Plans and Operations Unit, Peace and Security Department at AMISOM, Okello laid a firm foundation for the eventual defeat of Al Shabaab.
In 2002, Okello served as UPDF’s Chief Political Commissar.
His current role in Ethiopia, according to Karemire is very critical as he is the focal person at the Peace and Security Department on AMISOM and G5 Sahel Joint Force operational issues.
“He is therefore needed on a full-time basis,” Karemire says.
AU Peace and Security Council recently considered and renewed the Mandates of G5 Sahel Joint Force in April and of AMISOM on May 7, 2020.