– African Union officials from countries contributing troops to the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) met this week in Kampala, Uganda, to review and evaluate the mission’s performance in Somalia, amid reports that the Somali government may seek an extension of the mission.
The African Union Commission, ATMIS Mission Headquarters, Troop Contributing Countries such as Burundi, Djibouti, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Uganda, as well as Somalia, are represented at the four-day summit, which began on April 24, 2023.
The meeting’s goal is to discuss the smooth implementation of the ATMIS military drawdown, with the first phase involving the removal of 2,000 troops from Somalia scheduled by the end of June 2023 under updated deadlines. The African Union’s commitment to a systematic, phased, sector-by-sector troop reduction until the forces leave at the end of 2024 was unanimously endorsed by the UN Security Council.
However, according to a recent story in The East African, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud may ask the force to continue past the December 31, 2024 departure date, reflecting the difficulties in dealing with the Al-Shabaab insurgency. Although Hussein Sheikh-Ali, President Mohamud’s National Security Adviser, has refuted these charges, the scenario underlines the complexity surrounding the ATMIS mission.
“This is incorrect reporting.” As stipulated by UN Security Council Resolutions 2628 and 2670, the Federal Government of Somalia is committed to handing over responsibility for security in Somalia from ATMIS by December 31, 2024. We are working on the post-ATMIS scenario.”
The Kampala meeting will also assess the Somali Security Forces’ readiness to take over security responsibilities from African Union soldiers, including force generation and logistical assistance. This comes at a vital time, since Somalia has been working on training and recruiting at least 24,000 soldiers to take over from ATMIS by December 2024.
The meeting was convened at the request of the Federal Government of Somalia, according to Ambassador Julius Joshua Kivuna, Head of the Ugandan Delegation and Head of the Regional Peace and Security Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“During the US-Africa Summit in December 2022, Somalia’s President, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, requested that HE Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda, host the Heads of State of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia, ATMIS, to discuss the status of implementation of our mandate and to come up with resolutions on the way forward.” “That’s why we’re here,” he explained.
Ambassador Kivuna also stressed the meeting’s importance in analyzing ATMIS’s performance and helping preparations for the progressive turnover of security responsibility to the Somali Security Forces.
“The meeting provides an important platform for us to deliberate on relevant ATMIS issues and, most importantly, to evaluate the accomplishments made in the execution of the ATMIS mandate,” he added.
Following Monday’s meeting, Permanent Secretaries, Chiefs of Defence Forces, and Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense from ATMIS Troop Contributing Countries will convene.
The meeting recommendations will be used to inform the ATMIS Head of State Summit, which is set for Thursday of this week.