A Ugandan presidential spokeswoman quoted Mr. Ahmed, currently on a state visit to Uganda, as saying that the efforts of Ugandan troops continue to pay off in the fight against the al Qaeda-inspired al Shabab militants, who are fighting to topple Somalia's Transitional Federal government.
"[The] visiting Somali president briefed his host on developments in his country, saying that the situation was getting better...He also saluted President [Yoweri] Museveni for his exceptional role in the restoration of peace in Somalia," she said.
Since last year, Uganda has had at least 4,500 peacekeeping troops in Somalia. Last week, Uganda deployed an extra 1,800 troops to bolster AMISOM. Despite troop pledges from other African states, only Uganda and Burundi have so far sent troops to Somalia.
Since August last year, Ugandan troops have been on the offensive against the al Shabab militants who claimed responsibility for the July 11 terror attacks in Kampala that left at least 79 people dead.
The Ugandan president said last year that Ugandan troops would continue fighting the al Shabab until they are routed out of Somalia, following the July 11 attacks.
Meanwhile, the al Shabab continue to warn of more terror strikes in Uganda and Burundi. The American Embassy in Uganda this week warned its citizens that local terror groups are interested in attacking American interests. The embassy said it is particularly concerned about the month of February because Uganda will be holding its presidential and parliamentary elections at that time.
During the July 11 attacks, the terrorists targeted an Ethiopian restaurant, popular with foreigners. The strike left one American dead and several others injured. WSJ
A senior AU source said African leaders would discuss on Sunday whether to lodge a formal request with the United Nations to change the mandate to an attacking one from peacekeeping.
Tens of thousands of civilians have been killed over the past four years in fighting that has seen the rebels seize control of about half the capital Mogadishu and swathes of southern and central Somalia.
Western spy agencies say the country has becom a haven for foreign jihadists and Somalia's al Shabaab rebels claimed responsibility for bombs in Uganda that killed scores in July.
"We are ready to attack if we have permission from the United Nations' Security Council," Jean Ping, chairman of the African Union Commission, told a news conference in Ethiopia.
Ping said the AU had requested five helicopters for AMISOM.
The senior AU source said these would be helicopter gunships and their addition to AMISOM'S armoury would significantly bolster its attack capabilities.
Ping also said Guinea had committed to deploying one or two batallions to the lawless country. Last month, the U.N. Security Council approved an extra 4,000 peacekeepers for Somalia to bolster the 8,000-strong force in Mogadishu.
"In the coming months, we have to move to that ceiling of 12,000 troops," said Ping.
Uganda, which forms the backbone of AMISOM, has said it could contribute all the soldiers needed to take the force up to the AU's desired level of 20,000 but is looking for someone else to foot the bill.
Horn of Africa analysts say the rebels would have likely ousted Somalia's interim government, whose mandate ends in August, had it not been supported by AMISOM troops.
The U.N. acknowleged this week the government would miss the deadline to adopt a new constitution and hold general elections, raising questions over how to form the next administration. (Reporting by Richard Lough; Editing by David Clarke/Maria Golovnina)