The UN Security Council has unanimously extended the mandate of the AU Mission in Somalia or African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) with a key strategic objective to eliminate the terrorist group Al-Shabaab.
The council’s action comes amidst an AU Peace and Security Council decision that African forces should start withdrawing from the mission from October 2018.
The resolution, passed in New York, calls for a reduction in the threat posted by Al-Shabaab and other armed groups and for AMISOM, in coordination with the UN’s Political Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) help facilitate the political process at all levels ahead of election this year by September.
Unanimity in Council as pressure builds to bring stability to a country ahead of crucial elections this year despite Al-Shabaab ramping up attacks.
Ambassador Peter Wilson is the UK’s deputy Permanent Representative and the penholder on resolutions concerning Somalia.
“We will work hard to provide clear direction and prioritization in AMISOMS tasks in this critical year. That means liberating the Somali people from the threat of Al-Shabaab through deliberate operations, enabling the security environment for the electoral progress to take place as Egypt has rightly emphasized and supporting the gradual handing over of Security to the Somali security forces which must be the overarching objective of all of us,” adds Wilson.
First deployed in 2007, AMISOMS military component has been instrumental in helping ouster Al Shabaab militants from the capital Mogadishu and large swathes of the country.
But deadly attacks by the al Qaeda affiliate continue to undermine political, security and economic progress despite strong gains in the last three years.
The election by September this year is seen as a crucial next step in the country’s metamorphosis towards becoming a fully functional state.
Egypt’s Ambassador Abdellatif Aboulatta explains, “My delegation affirms that the positive political developments witnessed in Somalia were not to have been achieved without the efforts and sacrifices offered by the AMISOM, and its troops in order to provide a conducive environment for political efforts underway by all parties in Somalia. This has empowered the international efforts to support the political process and allow the Security Council to send a clear message through its visit to Somalia in May about the importance of concluding the election process swiftly.”
The resolution also urges greater consultation by AMISOM with the local population to ensure greater sustainability of progress in the country.
The UK’s Peter Wilson says, “As we review AMISOMS mandate, we should remember that without the bravery and sacrifice of AMISOMS troops, Somalia would not have made the progress that it has. It’s essential that we ensure that AMISOM’S troop contributors can commit for at least the next two years because that progress can easily be undone. It’s equally important that the Federal Government of Somalia delivers against its commitment to build credible security forces not only to address the legitimate concerns of AMISOM troop contributors but also to ensure that peace and security in Somalia is secured for the long term.”
The AU’s Peace and Security Council wants a phased withdrawal of troops from AMISOM to be concluded by 2020.
Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya are among the largest troop contributing countries to the mission.