Following two days of closed-door meetings in Mogadishu, the African Union and the Federal Government of Somalia on Thursday, August 19, 2021 signed an agreement on the likely configuration and proposed mandate of the African Union’s support to Somalia beyond December, 2021.
“The mandate of the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) comes to an end this year (2021). We have been discussing what will replace AMISOM come January 2022,” said Fiona Lortan, the Acting Director of Conflict Management at the Political Affairs, Peace and Security Department of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, who led the AU and AMISOM team at the negotiations.
“We know that there is still a need for some sort of security presence from the African Union to assist the Somalia government in the next few years while it builds up its forces. And so, we have been discussing what the new mission should look like, and what the mandate of the new mission will be,” Ms. Lortan added.
Leading the discussions on behalf of the Federal Government of Somalia was the Minister of Defence, Hassan Hussein Haji. He was joined by the Director General of the Somalia Ministry of Defence, Hassan Said Samantar; the Senior Advisor Office in the Office of Prime Minister, Abdi Isse Dirshe; the Deputy Somalia Ambassador to Ethiopia, Jaffar Abukar Mohamed; and Colonel Ahmed Mohamed of the Somalia National Army.
“We have signed an important agreement for Somalia, which now kick-starts the transition period. It is a step-by-step process that will be implemented in piecemeal, and we will gradually exchange roles with our African brothers and sisters who have been helping us for some time now. Once our forces are ready and a good plan has been drawn, they will take full responsibility for the country’s security,” said the Director General of the Somalia Ministry of Defence, Said Samantar.
The signing of the agreement was witnessed by the European Union Deputy Head of Delegation to Somalia, Nicole Miller, and the Deputy Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Somalia, Mary Shockledge, who were two of Somalia’s key international partners involved in the discussions.
Lortan said while there was general agreement on the likely configuration of the AU’s Peace Support Operations in the country beyond 2021, discussions between the two parties would continue into the future with a focus on consolidating the security gains made by AMISOM over the years.
“We will continue our discussions, but for now we have got at least some broad understanding of what we need to do and how we need to work together and partner with each other,” she said.
Following the meeting with the Federal Government of Somalia, Ms. Lortan took the time to visit AMISOM Force Headquarters to brief the Military and Police components of AMISOM on the new development.
“What we agreed (with the government of Somalia) was generally just a roadmap that will lead us to details on what the new mission will look like,” she told the Police and Military officers. “We agreed that the new mission will be a mission of limited duration, during which we will progressively hand-over responsibilities for security to the Federal Government of Somalia and its security forces.”
With Ms. Lortan at the meetings was with the AU Head of Peace Support Operations Division (PSOD), Sivuyile Bam, and AU Chief of Operations and Planning, Brigadier General Michael Kabango, who was previously a contingent commander of Uganda forces in AMISOM.
The discussions with the FGS also included the Deputy Head of AMISOM, Simon Mulongo, AMISOM Force Commander, Lieutenant General Diomede Ndegeya, Deputy Force Commander Operations and Plans Major General, Kitsao Shume, and AMISOM Police Commissioner, Assistant Inspector General of Police, Augustine Magnus Kailie.