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AU team in Somalia over drawdown plans, posting ATMIS strategy

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Alhaji Sarjoh Bah

MOGADISHU, SOMALIA | Xinhua | The African Union’s high-level delegation arrived in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, Saturday evening to assess the ongoing troop withdrawal, whose second phase began in December 2023.

The African Union Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) said the AU team, which is led by Alhaji Sarjoh Bah, the director of conflict management within the Political Affairs, Peace and Security Department of the African Union Commission, will also discuss post-ATMIS strategy for 2024.

“The delegation is scheduled to engage in a series of meetings with officials from the Federal Government of Somalia and international partners,” ATMIS said in a statement issued in Mogadishu.

ATMIS was expected to have reduced its troop presence in Somalia by an additional 3,000 and transfer control of several military bases to Somali security by Dec. 31, 2023.

According to ATMIS, this strategic approach aims to align with Somalia’s overarching security transition objectives, ensuring a careful and well-planned reduction in troop presence.

Bah said the AU team will hold consultations with the Somali government officials and international partners on ATMIS transition and modalities for the deployment of a new mission in January 2025.

“It is the culmination of 17 years of costly peace enforcement in Somalia. A smooth transition is critical to consolidate the gains,” Bah said on his X, formerly Twitter.

In the first phase of the drawdown, which concluded in June 2023, 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.

UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia Catriona Laing welcomed the AU team to Mogadishu for this very important mission.

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“Our strong partnership as the AU and UN under the leadership of the government of Somalia and with other international partners is showcasing what we can achieve when we work together to share goals,” Laing said. ■

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