AU troops start leaving Somalia after technical pause

AMISOM and Somali National Army operation to capture Afgoye Corridor. (Photo: AMISOM Public Information)

MOGADISHU, Somalia - The second phase of withdrawal of African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS] troops has been activated in the country, a senior official confirmed, following a technical pause that was approved in September this year.

At least 3,000 ATMIS soldiers were scheduled to leave Somalia in September 2023 but the government of Somalia did request the United Nations Security Council, call for a technical pause, which was subsequently, granted.

But this month, the second batch of ATMIS troops has begun leaving the country, Information, Tourism and Culture Minister Daudi Aweis said, noting that the team is expected to leave the country by December 31st. This will reduce ATMIS personnel capacity to around 13,000, he added.

"The phase two withdrawal of 3000 ATMIS troops will start soon and end on December 31, 2023, following discussions in Mogadishu involving the Somali government, AU, and UN. ATMIS will transfer 8 military bases to Somali forces as per UNSCR2710," he said.

The first phase of withdrawal saw at least 2,000 soldiers drawn from troops contributing countries leave. By December 2024, it is anticipated that the ATMIS teams will have handed security responsibilities to the Somali National Army.

On Friday, the United Nations Security Council lifted the arms embargo imposed on Somalia, a significant move that would allow the country to strengthen its army by equipping it with sophisticated weapons. The decision was approved by 14 of the 15 council members, with France opting to refrain from voting.

"The lifting of the arms embargo would enable the Somali government to build and modernize its armed forces, enhancing its capacity to defend the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity," Aweis said shortly after the historic move.

"This will also allow strengthening the Somali government's capacity to provide security is essential for its efforts to establish stable governance, deliver public services, and promote economic development."

At first, ATMIS went to Somalia as the African Union Mission in Somalia [AMISOM] before transitioning to ATMIS. The mission is credited for flushing Al-Shabaab militants from strategic towns besides restoring peace and stability in different parts of the country.


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