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Somalia, AU, and UN set to begin 2nd phase of troops withdrawal

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Somalia, AU, and UN set to begin second phase of troops withdrawal

the African Union Transition Mission (ATMIS), and the UN Support Office (UNSOS) on Saturday jointly announced the resumption of the second phase of the troop withdrawal from the country in December.

Mohammed El-Amine Souef, the special representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission for Somalia and head of ATMIS, said the process to withdraw another 3,000 troops from Somalia was originally intended to conclude by the end of September but was halted following a request by the Somali government for a technical pause.

“After extensive discussions at the tripartite technical level among the three parties and in line with the directives of the African Union Communique and the UN Security Council Resolution 2710 (2023), today we jointly announce that ATMIS will resume and complete the drawdown of 3,000 troops by Dec 31, 2023,” Souef said at a joint news conference in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.

According to a joint statement issued after the meeting, Souef noted that since the technical pause in September, ATMIS, the government, and UNSOS had worked collaboratively to put in place measures to resume the process as set forth by the UN Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council.

Somalia’s National Security Adviser Hussein Sheikh Ali reaffirmed the government’s commitment to adhere to the established timelines. Ali noted that Somali Security Forces (SSF) are prepared to assume control of the eight military bases to be handed over by ATMIS troops.

Ali called on Somalis to support the transition process, saying both the government and the international community are committed to seeing it through.

“Today, we are here to share information with the Somali public, something they have been waiting to hear from us and which the world has also been waiting to hear on the confirmation of the security transition process,” Ali said.

In the first phase of the drawdown, which concluded in June, ATMIS withdrew 2,000 troops and transferred control of seven militaries to Somali Security Forces, as mandated by UN Security Council Resolutions 2687 and 2670.

Aisa Kirabo Kacyira, head of the UNSOS, expressed the world body’s support for the transition and the drawdown process to fulfill the mandate while the UNSOS continues to provide logistical support for ongoing operations.

“We understand that even as we draw down, other operations are ongoing,” Kacyira said, expressing her appreciation to ATMIS and the government for their close cooperation and coordination.

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