AU team wraps up Somalia visit, plans drawdown of 3,000 troops in September

Xinhua , Sunday 9 Jul 2023

The African Union's high-level delegation wrapped up their four-day visit to Somalia on Saturday to assess the first stage of a planned troop withdrawal, which it said was successfully concluded at the end of June.

African Union delegation in Somalia
A high-level delegation from the African Union headed by the Director of Conflict Management, Alhaji Sarjoh Bah, has concluded a four-day working visit to Somalia to evaluate the first stage of a planned troop withdrawal, which was successfully concluded at the end of last month. Photo courtesy of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) official Twitter account (@ATMIS_Somalia)


The team, headed by Alhaji Sarjoh Bah, the director of Conflict Management within the Political Affairs, Peace and Security Department, said a joint technical assessment would be conducted in August to inform planning for the next stage of the drawdown of 3,000 AU troops to be completed by the end of September.

"We are at a very critical period, and I am quite impressed by the enthusiasm, the level of cooperation and the sense that we are all pulling in the same direction that is extremely useful," Bah said in a statement issued on Sunday in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.

He said the AU delegation was in Somalia to discuss and engage with African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), the Somali government and the UN including other international partners on the transition processes.

Bah said the team also discussed the requirements of the new UN Security Council Resolution 2687 on the steps that they need to take to effectively carry out the next phase of the drawdown, which involves further withdrawal of 3,000 ATMIS troops.

The first phase of the transition involved the drawdown of 2,000 troops serving with ATMIS and the handover of six military bases to the Somali security forces.

Bah said his meetings with senior UN senior officials in Somalia also focused on the UN's role in peacebuilding, reconciliation, the drawdown, and transfer of security responsibilities.

He praised Somalia's President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud for the tremendous progress in driving a Somali-led security transformation during his first term of office.

"It is a sign of progress. It is a moment that we must all collectively celebrate. It is also a clear demonstration that the Federal Government of Somalia is stepping forward to take over what is their primary responsibility, the safety and security of Somalia," Bah added.

During the meetings, Bah thanked the stakeholders for demonstrating solid support for Somalia and expressed his admiration to the partners for the universal consensus in consolidating the security gains to restore unity in the Horn of Africa region.

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