The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) should be reconfigured to meet Somalia’s political and security prerogatives, according to a new report by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS).

The ISS, an African non-profit organization, in its latest report on Thursday entitled “Is this the right time to downsize AMISOM?” stressed the importance of finding lasting solutions to Somalia’s security problems.

AMISOM, which has been operating in Somalia for the past 12 years, is principally mandated to reduce threats posed by al-Shabab and other armed opposition groups, as well as to support stabilization efforts.

“AMISOM should prioritize capacity-building in Somalia’s security sector,” the ISS said, adding that “increasing the number of police and civilian experts would help get all political actors in Somalia involved.”

“This requires expanding the geographic presence of security structures, increasing their staff and enhancing their capacity,” the institute said.

The ISS, which noted Somalia’s 2018 transition plan “deals not only with the military, but also covers stabilization, local governance and state-building activities that include the expansion of local policing and justice,” also stressed on extending state authority across country.

“The focus should be on extending state authority, the rule of law and justice,” the ISS said. “Somalia’s recent gains could be derailed if the threat of al-Shabab and other armed groups isn’t conclusively dealt with, and the country’s political impasse is not resolved.”

“Too much focus on downsizing the military forces in the country without a lasting political solution will not deliver peace and security in Somalia,” the ISS said.

Noting that the AU mission should have completed its second phase of military force downsizing as part of its exit strategy by the end of this month, the ISS indicated that “serious ongoing security threats posed by al-Shabab and other armed groups raise questions about the timing of the drawdown and the implications for Somalia’s security.”

According to the institute, AMISOM “has achieved” its target to some extent.

“The mission, along with its Somali counterparts and international partners, has created a level of stability which has allowed local and global actors to implement many political and peace initiatives,” the report said.

The ISS report came days after the African Union’s call for gradual and progressive takeover of security responsibilities from its mission in Somalia.

In November, AMISOM developed a document on an effective framework for the gradual transition of security responsibilities to Somalia’s security institutions from the AU mission.

The new concept of operations, which guides AMISOM’s activities and operations for the 2018-2021 period, marks the final phase of the AU mission’s transition and eventual exit from Somalia.

UN Security Council Resolution 2431, adopted in 2018, called for a further reduction in the number of troops, following the first reduction undertaken in December 2017.

The AU-UN Joint Review of AMISOM in 2015 recommended a gradual and condition-based shift from military- to police-led security in Somalia. The recommendation was also endorsed by both the AU’s PSC and the UN Security Council. Enditem


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