Kenya, Algeria call for extension of Amisom mandate in Somalia

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Kenya and Algeria have called for the extension of Amisom mandate in Somalia.

In a joint communique between Kenya’s Foreign Affairs CS Raychelle Omamo and her Algeria counterpart Sabri Boukadoum, the two countries said Amisom has played a key role in pacifying Somalia and ridding the country of terror groups including the al-Shabaab.

The Ministers noted that Amisom continues to experience challenges especially in respect to predictable funding including lack of force multipliers and enablers.

“And in this regard, the ministers urged the United Nations to consider financing Amisom through UN assessed contributions,” read part of the communique seen by the Star.

The ministers also took note of the threat of Al-Shabab which remains potent and called on the AU and the UN to renew the mandate of Amisom, taking into account that sufficient capacity has not been built within the Somalia National Security services to take over the functions currently undertaken by Amisom troops.

In October last year, the Star reported that the Somalia National Defence Forces will soon have to take over the security of their country.

The reality of KDF exiting Somalia by this year has started taking shape. The Star established that the troops under Amisom have started gearing up for an exit.

This will likely bring to an end a decade of KDF’s presence in Somalia under Amisom’s Concept of Operations (Conops).

Since Amisom took over military operations, its mandate has primarily been geared towards empowering the Somali Security Forces (SSF) through mentorship.

Multiple sources at the Department of Defence told the Star that currently, Somali forces are increasingly conducting independent operations, following mentorship by respective troops under Amisom.

According to the sources, Amisom has been conducting Operational Readiness Assessments (ORA) annually across Somalia.

The purpose of the assessment has been to establish the manning levels, standards of training and capability in each region.

“From the assessment reports, it is apparent that the SSF have attained a reasonable degree of capacity but still require more support and time to achieve optimal readiness,” the source said.

The source said much has been done towards achieving Amisom’s mandate towards the Somali Transition Plan (STP), but there is still more work to be done.

The Transition Plan has continued to guide the conduct of operations towards a stable and safe Somalia.

“Ultimately, it is the desire of all parties to see to fruition the handover of security responsibilities to the Federal Government of Somalia,” the source said.

According to the senior military personnel, Amisom troops drawdown has necessitated increased involvement of SSF in operations and management of security in a number of areas.

However, the troops continue to maintain a presence in key areas as part of the transition plan, and the exit will not be one-off but progressive.

The Conops contain a clear breakdown of how the Amisom troops should operate towards a gradual handover to the Somali forces.

Though the guidelines seen by the Star do not indicate an actual date when the troops exit in 2021, the sources said KDF troops have been on a rigorous exercise, mentoring Somali forces through joint operations that will see them take over.

“Our troops have been conducting joint offensive operations to degrade al Shabaab. In the operations, the aim has been to ensure Somalia forces are on the front line as we support them to remain tactical and professional,” another source said.

This, he said, is key to helping the Somali forces understand the scope of operations and the type of enemy they are dealing with.

According to Conops, the exit will be conducted gradually to allow a smooth transition.

In this context, the two ministers reiterated the importance of providing African solutions to African problems and agreed on the need to enhance AU efforts to Silence Guns in Africa, in coordination with its partners, including the United Nations.

Boukadoum congratulated Kenya on taking up its seat at the United Nations Security Council as a Non-Permanent Member for the period 2021-2022.

He assured of Algeria’s support to, and solidarity with Kenya for a successful tenure at the Security Council and expressed support for Kenya’s efforts to promote Africa’s voice and defend the continent’s just causes and principled positions for a safer and more prosperous world.

The Minister further paid tribute to Kenya’s role as a current member of the African Union Peace and Security Council, and as a Bureau Member of the African Union, especially in coordinating efforts to provide adequate and timely AU responses to the challenges faced during the past year, including the Covid-19 pandemic.

The two ministers reviewed the state of the bilateral relations and, on this occasion underlined with satisfaction the quality of the cooperation between the two countries, in several areas, including exploring new realms of collaboration.

The ministers noted that the said cooperation is yet to reach its fullest potential and results, and, therefore, agreed to join efforts to explore opportunities for expansion of the cooperation in the areas of economic, trade and investments.

Both ministers also discussed and exchanged views on the political, peace and security situation in Africa, and expressed convergent views and concerns about the instability and conflict in some parts of the continent, including in Libya, Mali, the Sahel region, the DRC, CAR and in parts of the Horn of Africa Region as well as on the global threat of terrorism and extremism which they condemned in the strongest terms possible.

The duo called for more efforts to stop the increasing and extremely worrying spread of terrorism in all regions of the continent, including through upholding international norms with regards to the prohibition of payment of a ransom to terrorists.