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Somalia: AMISOM's new Force Commander formally assumes office

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MOGADISHU, Somalia - A new Force Commander of the AU Mission in Somalia assumed office today, following a formal handover ceremony, held at the AMISOM Force Headquarters in Mogadishu.

Lt. General Jim Besigye Owoyesigire takes over the leadership of the Force from Lt. General Osman Noor Soubagleh, who has been in office since July 2016.

While handing over the office, the outgoing Force Commander appealed to the Somali security forces to rally behind his successor.

“I appeal to you our Somali colleagues to extend your support to the new Force Commander so that together you can effectively fight Al Shabaab. Please accord the new Force Commander the same support that you extended to me,” urged Lt. Gen Soubagleh.

The incoming Force Commander pledged to continue with the work already started, especially with capacity building of the Somali National Army.

With 39-years experience in the military, Lt. General Owesigyile brings to the Force vast knowledge in Field Artillery and Air Defence, having served the Ugandan military as Air Force Commander and Division Commander – Field Artillery Division, among other capacities.

“In my career, I have never withdrawn from the battlefield for the last 39 years and I like training; which is going to do with the Somali National Army, operate with them and when times comes, for the transition to handover the power, I will do that,” he said.

His priorities include overseeing a seamless, gradual and conditions-based transition and transfer of the security responsibility from AMISOM, to the Somali security forces, and destroying the remaining pockets of the al Qaeda affiliated Al-Shabaab militants.

“All of us here have one problem, and that is Al-Shabaab. We don’t have to collocate with Al Shabaab. We need to fight him, break his backbone and then finally eradicate him. That’s my goal and I will achieve it,” the new Force Commander promised.

The handover ceremony was presided over by the AU Special Representative for Somalia and Head of AMISOM, Ambassador Francisco Caetano Madeira.

“I want the world to know that we had a very wonderful General, a very competent soldier, an army officer who has been able to perform his duties faithfully, in a committed manner, in very trying circumstances, but in a very determined manner,” Ambassador Madeira said of the outgoing Force Commander.

He welcomed the new Force Commander into the fold and promised him support.

“You have proven to be a very good army officer and soldier and I want all these capacities, competencies and insights to be delivered in the process of you accomplishing your tour of duty and your mandate,” he told the incoming Force Commander.

A career soldier, Lt. Gen. Owoyesigire holds two Masters degrees, in Defence and Strategic Studies and in Religion, Peace and Conflict Resolution.