Somalia has received another round of endorsement from neighbours to pursue Al-Shabaab after leaders met in Kampala, where President Yoweri Museveni hosted Somalia’s Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and leaders from countries contributing troops to the African Transition Mission in Somalia (Atmis), including Kenyan President William Ruto.
“The problem of Burundi was solved by East Africa. So this problem, the way we discussed today, I am sure we can solve it,” said Museveni after the meeting.
The leaders appealed for increased financial support to ensure a proper transition.
“Still we are requesting and have requested your continued support until the end when Somalia has freed itself off insecurity, which we all are definitely sure and committed to see happen,” stated President Mohamud.
Atmis, which replaced the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) last year in April, had its mandate set to expire in December 2024, with the UN Security council pushing a troop drawdown from December 2022 to June 2023.
Proportionate force balance
Aden Duale, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Defence, cautioned that the Atmis drawdown should ensure proportionate force balance for maintenance of security not only for Somalia but the region.
“It is our responsibility, therefore, to ensure peace, security and stability within our region in order to achieve the much-desired economic prosperity,” said Duale.
Ahead of the heads of state meeting Thursday, it was agreed that a joint assessment of the security situation, planning and coordination was needed for drawdown timelines and for Somalia to prepare to take up security.
Defence and Foreign Affairs ministers from troop-contributing countries and Atmis partners want a coordinated exit of soldiers from Somalia to avoid negating security gains made.
The AU has also reiterated Somalia’s call for a complete lifting of an arms embargo as it acknowledged Mogadishu’s progress on decisive benchmarks outlined in the UN Security Council Resolution 2662.
Somalia has been under an arms embargo since 1993 when it fell under warlords. The sanctions initially targeted warlords but have been amended over the years to focus on terrorists. Still, Mogadishu wants a free hand to buy weapons from the market.
By LAILLAH MOHAMMED