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Somalia disbands UAE programme to pay and train soldiers

Somalia disbands UAE programme to pay and train soldiers
From Al Jazeera - April 11, 2018

Somalia has disbanded a United Arab Emirates programme to train some of its troops in a new sign of rising tensions in bilateral relations.

The Somali government announced on Wednesday that it will take over paying and training the soldiers in the programme, Defence Minister Mohamed Mursal Abdirahman told Somalia's state news agency Sonna.

"Somalia will fully take over [its troops] trained by the UAE... Those forces will be added to the various battalions of the Somalia National Army," Abdirahman said, adding the soldiers would be integrated into other units on Thursday.

The UAE has trained hundreds of troops since 2014 as part of an effort boosted by an African Union military mission to defeat an al-Shabab insurgency and secure the country for the government, which is backed by Western nations, Turkey and the United Nations.

There was no immediate comment from the UAE government.

Rising tensions

The move came after the government ofSomaliasaid on Sunday it had seized several bags of money containing $9.6m in cash from a plane arriving from the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi.

On Tuesday, the UAE denounced the seizure of the money, which it said was destined to pay the soldiers.

"Money allocated to support the Somali army and trainees was seized at gunpoint by Somali security personnel, who disrespected some members of the UAE forces," it said.

The money was found in three unmarked bags on a Royal Jet plane, according to the Somali interior ministry, and its seizure resulted in an hours-long standoff between airport officials and UAE embassy staff in Mogadishu.

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