Somalia transition plan on track as Amisom begins exit

Ambassador Francisco Madeira is the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia and head of Amisom.
Soldiers from the Uganda People's Defence Force, part of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) leave for Uganda after they ended their tour of duty in Somalia on November 08 2015. AMISOM Photo

On April 30 2018, the African Union Peace and Security Council endorsed the Somalia transition plan. Since then, the AU Mission in Somalia (Amisom) has registered progress in implementing its mandate, guided by the transition plan. The plan is a comprehensive guide developed by the federal government of Somalia and its partners for the transfer of security responsibility to the Somali security forces ahead of Amisom’s anticipated exit in 2021.

Important targets that Amisom set out to achieve as part of our Somalia exit strategy are being completed.
This would not have been possible without the involvement of the Somali authorities, who agree that Somalia’s security forces should take over from Amisom.

The past year has seen developments on the security front and Somali security forces have proved their increased capabilities. We have seen the forces attack, win and hold ground. This is a strong signal to al-Shabab and other armed groups that their days are numbered. A professionally trained and well-equipped Somali security force is a game-changer in the fight against terror in Somalia.

In the Lower Shabelle region, the Somali National Army, alongside Amisom forces, have conducted operations that have seized territory. The most recent victories were recorded in Sabiid and Bariire.

For seven years, Sabiid was a base where armed groups assembled explosives, but now it is liberated. This is proof that given the right conditions, the Somali National Army is capable of leading successful anti-terror operations and can take over security responsibility of their country. These conditions include, among others, generating the required troop numbers, proper training, equipment and payment of salaries.

We salute international partners such as the European Union, the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom, which continue to support efforts to build the capacity of the Somali security forces — both the federal and state police and the military — through recruitment and training. With support from international partners, the Somali security forces are securing the populations in the recently liberated areas, conducting patrols, securing critical infrastructure including roads, hospitals and schools, and supporting the running of stabilisation and early recovery activities.

Our operations in Somalia are guided by the AU Peace and Security Council, as well as the United Nations Security Council. So, since December 2017, Amisom has been reducing its troop numbers, in line with relevant UN Security Council decisions. The UN has set December 2021 as the date when Amisom will fully exit Somalia.

This year in February, Amisom completed a further reduction of 1 000 troops. This reduction has meant that Amisom has to hand over forward operating bases and other facilities to the Somali security authorities. Amisom forces have vacated Mogadishu University, Mogadishu Stadium and Jaalle Siyaad Military Academy and have handed over the security responsibility for these facilities to Somali security institutions.

Last year, Amisom developed a new concept of operations to support the implementation of the Somali transition plan that guides our exit strategy. As part of the operationalisation of this new concept for 2018/2021, Amisom has been reconfiguring its military, police and civilian components. The military commanders of Amisom and the Somali National Army have since developed a detailed plan to implement the military aspects of the new concept.

Under the reconfiguration, Amisom will either collapse some forward operating bases or hand them over to Somali security forces. Already, in Jubaland, Amisom has handed over the Afmadow base to local security forces.

The men and women of the Amisom police continue to provide operational support, as well as training and mentoring, to federal and regional police. Two additional Amisom police units and 67 individual police officers will be deployed to boost training, mentoring and support for the national elections scheduled for 2020/2021.

We have also made significant progress with the deployment of Amisom civilian staff to support and complement the activities of our military and police components, and to boost the institutional capacity-building and broader stabilisation and recovery efforts in the federal member states of Jubaland, South West, and Hirshabelle. With this, we will be able to help secure the gains that we’ve made over the 12 years since Amisom was deployed in Somalia.

We envision that by 2021 Somali security forces will be ready to take over security responsibilities from Amisom fully.

Ambassador Francisco Madeira is the special representative of the chairperson of the AU Commission for Somalia and head of Amisom.