Military commanders of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) have wrapped up a four-day meeting to evaluate the first phase of troop withdrawal from Somalia, which they said was successfully implemented in June.
The ATMIS said on Monday that the meeting held in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, was attended by contingent commanders of the five troop-contributing countries, namely Kenya, Uganda, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Burundi, during which they also discussed threats posed by the al-Shabab terrorist group in the country.
“We discussed a wide range of issues, including the general security situation and the threats posed by al-Shabab, and came up with resolutions to be implemented by the respective sector commanders,” Sam Okiding, ATMIS force commander who chaired the meeting, said in a statement.
“The meeting also discussed the transition in detail, mainly phase one drawdown and its impact as well as our capacity and capabilities for subsequent operations,” Okiding said. The ATMIS withdrew 2,000 soldiers from Somalia by June 30 and handed over six military bases to the Somali Security Forces (SSF) in line with United Nations Security Council resolutions.
Okiding said the meeting discussed the upcoming withdrawal of 3,000 troops, which is expected to be completed by the end of September.
The commanders deliberated on the military bases to be handed over to the Somali government under the second phase and their security implications, he said.
Peter Kimani Muteti, ATMIS deputy force commander in charge of support and logistics, described the conference as timely and key to fulfilling the ATMIS mandate ahead of its exit from Somalia in December 2024.
Muteti encouraged the sector commanders to continue fulfilling the ATMIS mandate of securing Somalia both in individual and joint military operations.
“The key components of our mandate include degrading al-Shabab, protecting civilians, ensuring that we give access to and escorts to humanitarian assistance, mentoring Somali Security Forces and also supporting the stabilization process,” he added.
The allied forces are currently planning the second phase of joint military operations against al-Shabab following the completion of the first phase, which liberated chunks of territory in central and southern Somalia that were under the control of the terrorist group.
The meeting is held every four months to plan the AU mission’s security priorities in implementation of the Concept of Operations, a document that alongside the Somali Transition Plan provides a roadmap on military operations against al-Shabab and the gradual transfer of security responsibilities to the SSF.
Marius Ngendabanka, ATMIS deputy force commander in charge of operations and plans, stressed the importance of conducting an assessment of the security implications of the first phase of the ATMIS troop withdrawal.
“We must assess the first phase of the drawdown, its implications on security, humanitarian, the political situation and other fields, the challenges encountered and analyze how we can effectively conduct the second phase of the drawdown,” he said.