African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops are set to spend more years in Somalia as they seek to restore the elusive peace in the East African horn.
By Daniel Otieno
The decision came after a major deliberation held in Kampala Uganda by countries contributing troops to fight terrorists in who said their withdrawal would “lead to a reversal of the gains made by AMISOM ).
The meeting concluded that Somalia does not have the capacity to take care of nation security hence the move by Amisom troops to extend their stay.
The meeting was attended by President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed of the Federal Republic of Somalia, and Gaston Sindimwo, First Vice President of Burundi, as well as officials from Kenya, Djibouti and Ethiopia.
The communique said the leaders had noted that “despite the notable achievements, the situation remained fragile with Al-Shabaab and other terrorist groups remaining a threat to the country, region and international peace and security”.
The leaders also “recalled the UN Security Council Resolution of August 2017, whose main thrust was the phased reduction and draw-down of AMISOM troops by 2020”.
The leaders agreed to meet at least once a year at the summit level and twice a year at the ministerial and chiefs of defence forces levels, in order to jointly plan, review progress and chart a way forward towards the effective implementation of the AMISOM mandate and transition plan.
They also stressed the need to urgently develop a realistic AMISOM–Somali led Transition Plan that includes a comprehensive approach to security and manifests the dividends of peace. The summit called upon the African Union Commission, AMISOM leadership and the Somali Government to work together to come up with the plan for consideration at the TCCs next meeting.
The Summit of Heads of State and Government of AMISOM Troop Contributing Countries was held in the wake of UN Security Council Resolution 2372(2017) calling for the condition-based gradual drawdown and handover of security responsibilities to Somali national security forces.
Also in attendance were Djibouti’s Minister of National Defence, Ali Hassan Bahdon; the Ambassador of Ethiopia to Uganda, Tolesa Shagi Moti; the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, and the Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD), Mahboub Maalim.
The summit mandated the Ugandan President to communicate the resolution to the United Nations as well as the African Union currently chaired by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda.
The leaders observed that the timeframe and troop levels under the UN Security Council Resolution are not realistic and would lead to a reversal of gains made by AMISOM over the years to defeat the terrorist group, Al-Shabaab.
The summit also noted that the drawdown undermined the capacity of AMISOM to deliver on its mandate, the inadequate capacity of the Somali National Army and the importance of hastening the formation of the Somali national security forces.
President Museveni said the communique of the summit was a collective product resulting from confidential discussions by the five AMISOM TCCs, Somalia and partners.
The African Union Commission Chairperson said there is need for efforts to be put on continued improvement of security through sustained military operations, stabilisation efforts across the country, and ensuring that AMISOM continues to be present in Somalia.
“A premature withdrawal is likely to undermine the gains made over the last decade, at a great human and financial cost. Central to this will be predictable financing for AMISOM that will make it possible for the Somali national security forces to take over primary security responsibility from AMISOM,” Mr. Mahamat observed.
The African Union Commission Chairperson confirmed that a joint AU-UN high-level team of special envoys on predictable AMISOM funding consultations had been appointed to lead this endeavour.
“The special envoys have started the joint consultations engaging partner countries, AMISOM Troop Contributing Countries and other key stakeholders in a bid to reconcile varying perspectives and come up with a pragmatic and politically acceptable solution. The outcomes of the consultations will be presented to the relevant African Union and United Nations organs,” Mr. Mahamat noted.
In his remarks, President Farmaajo said joint collaboration between AMISOM and the Somali National Army, for over a decade, to fight Al-Shabaab, have registered success in dislodging the group from areas it previously controlled.
“I believe we have a long way to go. We need to put together a sound strategy in order to effectively fight against Al-Shabaab and defeat them. And I believe they are weak,” he said.
“I believe if we continue to collaborate with the help of EU (European Union) and the international community to continue funding this operation, we will be able to defeat Al-Shabaab in a very short order,” President Farmaajo added.
The leaders also held discussions with representatives of international partners from Algeria, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Sweden, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America, United Nations and the European Union.
In November last year, AMISOM announced that it would withdraw 1,000 of the 22,000 fighters from the Horn of Africa by the end of the year and that all foreign peacekeepers would have withdrawn by the end of 2020.
Countries which contribute peacekeepers to AMISON include Uganda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti.