The Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU) has endorsed a request by Somalia for a three-month pause in the withdrawal of 3,000 troops stationed in the country, the AU mission said on Thursday.
The PSC, which is the standing decision-making organ of the AU for the prevention, management, and resolution of conflicts, also welcomed the commitment by troop-contributing countries (TCCs) of Kenya, Ethiopia, Burundi, Djibouti, and Uganda to work with Somalia and partners to secure financial support required for the AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS).
“The PSC strongly supports the request of Somalia regarding the technical pause of the phase 2 drawdown of 3,000 ATMIS uniformed personnel by three months,” the PSC said, according to resolutions released by the ATMIS in the Somali capital of Mogadishu.
The five ATMIS troop contributors told the United Nations Security Council that they were in “strong support of technical pause” of the drawdown because they agree with Somalia that the country requires time to fix certain security gaps, including pooling enough personnel to take over security responsibilities.
The PSC urged Somalia to prioritize force generation, regeneration, and capacity building to take over and adequately occupy all military bases handed over by the ATMIS with the view to preserving the gains made in Somalia.
The PSC, in consultation with Somalia, the TCCs, the UN and other partners, pledged to reach an agreement on the transition to the Somali government’s responsibility for security in order to make an informed decision on the renewal of the ATMIS mandate in December, including phase 3 drawdown scheduled for June 2024, and final exit by December 2024.
The PSC, however, took note of the shortfalls in financial resources that could impede the operationalization of the requested technical pause of three months. It directed the AU Commission to engage Somalia to mobilize internal resources, including approaching its bilateral partners to support the financial costs for the requested extension.
The ATMIS was expected to scale down its troop numbers in September this year by a further 3,000 personnel after successfully withdrawing 2,000 troops and handing over six military bases in June.