Troop contributing countries (TCCs) to the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) have unanimously agreed to maintain the number of soldiers in the warn-torn country.
Speaking during a summit at Speke Resort Munyonyo in Kampala on Thursday, the countries argued that scaling down the deployment in the troubled Horn of Africa country would water down the achievements so far made since their intervention in 2007.
Uganda’s Foreign Affairs minister Sam Kutesa called upon the TCCs and international partners to establish sustainable solutions that can safeguard the enormous successes registered by Amisom.
“As we consider concrete steps to forge a way forward on peace and security in Somalia, as TCCs we have made enormous efforts and sacrifices to Amisom and Somali National Army (SNA). Therefore, it is crucial that mechanisms be put in place that aim at safe guarding the enormous Amisom success,” Mr Kutesa added.
He said some of the tremendous progress registered by Amisom include position the Somali Government, previously based out of the country, in the capital Mogadishu, international organisations, including UN, relocating to Mogadishu, and liberating more than 80 per cent of Al-Shabaab dominated areas. The minister also said the threat of piracy at sea has been neutralized while regular elections have been held, among others.
Mr Kutesa said as Somalia goes through the important phase of consolidating its state functions, including the building of its national security forces, the drawdown of Amisom should be synchronized with the corresponding strengthening of Somali Security Forces.
The AU Commisioner for Peace and Security, Ambassador Smail Chergui, commended all TCCs to the AMISOM and other International Partners for their gradual assumption of primary security responsibility in Somalia that has registered a number of positive political developments in support of Somalia’s journey to lasting peace and security.
“A number of accomplishments have been achieved, largely aided by the political space and enabling environment created by AMISOM. For example, the adoption of the National Security Architecture, which provides the broad frame work to build the Somalia National Security Forces (SNSF), and the recent agreement on a roadmap on Inclusive Politics, which calls for a constitutional review process, a new electoral model for universal elections by 2020, and reconciliation,” Mr Smail said.
The UPDF Chief of Defence Forces, Gen David Muhoozi, noted that the security of Somalia calls for collective engagement by all TCCs to the Amisom and SNA.
In 2016 the African Union announced an exit strategy which would see some 22,000 troops withdraw and hand over control of security to the national army.
Currently the bloated and largely ineffective Somali army is more a collection of clan militias, with various international militaries providing poorly-coordinated training to different units.
While Amisom continues to receive financial, logistical and equipment support from multilateral donors, the reduction of the EU annual stipend to Amisom from $200 million to $160 million has affected operations.
The EU asked the AU to find alternative sources of funding, and the continental Peace and Security Council has been trying to reach out to counties in the Gulf to fill the gap.
The EU provided $1.68 billion to Amisom between 2004 and 2017. This includes the $189.5 million earmarked for the period April–December 2017. Troop Contributing countries include Burundi, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Zimbabwe.