AU envoy to Somalia: Phase II of ATMIS drawdown, complete
MOGADISHU, Somalia - The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) has successfully withdrawn troops from Somalia in the second phase, African Union Commission representative Souef Mohamed El-Amine has said, noting professionalism from the soldiers.
While meeting sector commanders, El-Amine maintained that ATMIS has succeeded in withdrawing soldiers for both Phase I and Phase II as stipulated in the Somali Transition Plan (STP). Phase II withdrawal was completed over the weekend.
"Today, I warmly congratulated the commanders on successfully concluding phases 1 and 2 of the ATMIS troop withdrawal, at the Sector Commanders Conference in Mogadishu," he said in a statement on X.
"Our exchanges were fruitful, touching on important topics such as lessons learned from previous reductions. Collaboration on these aspects is essential to the success of downsizing processes," added Mohamed El-Amine, who comes from Mauritius.
The two phases saw 5,000 soldiers leave the country, handing over security responsibilities to the Somali National Army (SNA). Several bases were closer down after the military installed civilian administration after the defeat of the Al-Shabab militants.
According to reports, the third phase of withdrawal will see about 4,000 soldiers leave the country and is expected to be completed by June 2024. The government of Somalia has insisted that it is ready to take security responsibilities from the foreign troops.
"Developing strategies for the next phase, planned for June 2024, is also a key step in ensuring a smooth transition and effective implementation," Souef Mohamed El-Amine, added, noting that the country is slowly stabilizing following contributions by the foreign troops.
LT. Harun Hassan, the newly appointed Somali National Army (SNA) Commander for Qorilow FOB, says he will strengthen collaboration with communities as SNA takes over the FOB from ATMIS. He is one of many commanders who took over vases from the foreign soldiers.