AU signs deal with Somalia for Amisom to remain beyond 2021

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Once Somali forces are ready and a good plan has been drawn, they will take full responsibility for the country’s security

The African Union and the government of Somalia on August 19, 2021, signed a deal on the proposed mandate of the AU’s support for Somalia beyond December 2021.

Through a statement on Wednesday, Amisom said the decision was arrived at after two days of closed-door meetings in Mogadishu.

“We have been discussing what will replace Amisom come January 2022,” the statement quoted Fiona Lortan, the acting director of Conflict Management at AU’s Political Affairs, Peace and Security Department, as saying.

Lortan led the AU and Amisom team at the negotiations, while Defence Minister Hassan Hussein Haji led the Somalian team.

“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,” she added.

The mandate of the African Union Mission to Somalia ends in December.  

Haji was joined by Defence ministry director-general Hassan Said Samantar, Prime Minister’s senior adviser Abdi Isse Dirshe, 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,” Samantar said.

Samantar added that once Somali forces are ready and a good plan has been drawn, they will take full responsibility for the country’s security.

The teams agreed that further improvement is needed on Amisom command and control to facilitate decision-making at Force Headquarters, joint transition mission and to develop a “workable, reliable, and game-changing” concept of operations.

The signing of the agreement was witnessed by the EU deputy head of Delegation to Somalia Nicole Miller and UK Deputy Ambassador 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.

In a visit to Amisom force headquarters to brief the Military and Police components of the mission on the new development, Lortan said the agreement was “generally just a roadmap that will lead us to details on what the new mission will look like.”

“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,” she said.

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