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Assessing ATMIS: African Union Troop Withdrawal Plans Under Review

Top officials from the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) troop-contributing countries (TCCs) have gathered in Kampala, Uganda, for a four-day meeting to review and evaluate the mission’s performance in Somalia. 

The meeting, attended by representatives from Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Burundi, Djibouti, and Somalia, as well as international partners such as the EU and UN, will also discuss plans to withdraw troops from Somalia ahead of the end of June 2023 Phase 1 withdrawal deadline.

This first phase of the troop drawdown plan will see 2,000 soldiers withdrawn, with the rest being withdrawn gradually and systematically, while maintaining the official timeline set for the withdrawal of all ATMIS troops from Somalia by December 31, 2024

Initially, TCCs proposed a five-year transition period which would make ATMIS exit date sometime in 2026. However, the UN Security Council agreed to a total of 32 months and unanimously endorsed the 2024 timeline. A sector-by-sector withdrawal of ATMIS troops will take place, during which institutions of the Federal Government will gradually take up all the security functions.

Sources say the government has been lobbying for an extended ATMIS stay of at least 2 years consistent with the TCCs initial recommendation. However, that proposal is still just an idea floating around with nothing concrete being put out.

Currently, the meeting which Ambassador Julius Joshua Kivuna, the Head of the Ugandan Delegation and Head of the Regional Peace and Security Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said had been convened at the request of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, is reviewing the preparedness of Somali Security Forces to take over from African Union troops.

During the US-Africa Summit in December 2022, H.E Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the President of Somalia requested H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the President of the Republic of Uganda to host the Heads of State of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia, ATMIS, to discuss the status of implementation of our mandate and come up with resolutions on the way forward. That’s why we are here,” Kivuna said at the opening of the meeting, on Monday, April 24.

In addition, the delegates will review ATMIS achievements as well as how well their mandate has been executed so far.

“The meeting provides a crucial platform for us to be able to deliberate on pertinent issues about ATMIS, and most importantly to evaluate the achievements made in the execution of the ATMIS mandate,” Kivuna added.

Consequently, the findings and recommendations from this meeting as well as subsequent meetings by Permanent Secretaries, Chiefs of Defence Forces, Ministers of Foreign Affairs, and Defence for ATMIS TCCs will feed into the ATMIS Head of State Summit to be held on Thursday this week. 

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