RED FLAG

AMISOM member states raise red flag over Somalia exit plan

In Summary

• AMISOM Member states have expressed grave concerns over withdrawal of troops from Somalia.

• Say they have greater concerns of grave implications of the AMISOM troop drawdown on Somalia’s peace and state building process.

KDF soldiers at the Old Kismayo Airport on guard.
KDF soldiers at the Old Kismayo Airport on guard.
Image: PATRICK VIDIJA

AMISOM Member states have expressed grave concerns over withdrawal of troops from Somalia.

The States on Saturday said they have noted mismatch between AMISOM’s mandate and the complex environment in which it operates.

The said there is great need to review of AMISOM’s mandate to take into account the realities on the ground.

In a communique of the political consultative meeting of the ministers for foreign affairs of the African Union mission in Somalia (Amisom) troop contributing countries (TCCs)  seen by the Star, the member states agreed that though they  take note of the United Nations Security Council resolution 2472 (2019) that renewed AMISOM’s mandate and further authorized the Member States of the AU to maintain the deployment of AMISOM until 31st May, 2020, they have concerns of grave implications of the AMISOM troop drawdown on Somalia’s peace and state building process.

In the meeting held at a Nairobi Hotel, the troop contributing countries  stressed the need to ensure that the troop 2 drawdown is phased equitably, based on a joint assessment of the prevailing situation and matched by corresponding capacity of the Somalia Security Forces to take over and to avoid risk of losing gains made.

 
 

While acknowledging the invaluable role of the Military Operations Coordination Committee (MOCC) of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in guiding AMISOM’s logistical and operational activities, the TCC’s called for increased troop generation of the requisite Somali National Army in line with the Somali Transition Plan.

Regarding the cost, status and future prospects in relation to the actual and prevailing situation in Somalia, the States maintained request to the UN  to provide adequate, predictable and sustainable funding to enable AMISOM conclude its Mission successfully before the actual exit.

“The Political Consultative Meeting has highlighted the mismatch between AMISOM’s mandate and the complex environment in which it operates and called for the review of AMISOM’s mandate to take into account the realities on the ground,” read part of the communique.

The TCC’s said going forward, there should be greater consideration of internal and external dynamics that affect the peace and state-building processes in Somalia and the region with a view to evolving appropriate response measures.

“The Committee has called for the application of the principle of equitable treatment of the Troop Contributing Countries and agreed to maintain a common position on all matters in their engagement in Somalia,” the communiqué read.

The meeting hosted by Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Monica Juma was attended by Burundi’s Amb. Ezéchiel Nibigira, AU Chairperson Amb. Hamdi Sanad Loza, Charles Okello Engolla Macodwogo, Minister of State for Defence and Veteran Affairs of the Republic of Uganda, Meles Alem, Ambassador of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and Ms. Hibaa Ismael, Counsellor, Embassy of Djibouti.

The meeting was also attended by Mohamed Guyo, Special Envoy of IGAD to Somalia, Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

 
 

The Ministers also met with representatives of AMISOM partners including China, Egypt, France, United Kingdom, United States of America, the United Nations, and the European Union

Though the TCC’s reiterated respect to the sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and unity of Somalia, the called for greater prudence in the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2372(2017) on phased reduction and draw down of AMISOM troops by 2020, as well as draw down timeframes and troop levels.

The meeting agreed that there should be improved coordination of international support among the various actors and have regular meetings, at least once a year at Summit level and twice at Ministerial and Chiefs of Defence levels, in order to jointly plan, review progress and chart a way forward towards the effective implementation of the AMISOM mandate and the AMISOM transitional plan.

In May this year, The Star reported that the troops under Amisom have started gearing up on an exit plan that will see Somalia National Defence Forces take over.

According to the Commanding Officer in charge of the  infantry battalion in Kismayo, Lieutenant Colonel Meshack Kishoyian, Amisom developed operations guidelines that run between 2018-2021.

In the guidelines he said there is a clear breakdown on how the Amisom troops should operate towards a gradual handover to the Somalia forces.

Top Military chiefs earlier in the year had agreed that military activities which include targeted operations against Al Shabaab to flush them out of their hideouts, will be implemented in phases.

This is likely going to see the troops launch a Kismayo-like capture against Jilib which is the only remaining town under Al Shabaab.

“The activities will consist of comprehensive operations in support of the Somalia Transition Plan and will include stability operations targeting Al Shabaab hideouts and enhancing protection of population centres,” Simon Mulongo, the Deputy Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (DSRCC) for Somalia said.

The Somalia Transition Plan will be implemented in three phases.

Activities to be undertaken under the plan, includes the phased and conditions-based troops’ withdrawal and handing over of priority locations in Mogadishu to the Somali Security Forces, in the short term.

Degrading of Al Shabaab and securing main supply routes and support to the Somali National Security Forces as they take full charge of the country’s national security responsibilities will be priorities under the midterm and long term objectives.