A delegation from the African Union Commission has carried out an assessment on the state of the Somalia-based peacekeeping mission to identify areas that need urgent support from the African Union headquarters in Ethiopia.
The delegation from the AU Commission’s Peace Support Operations Division also wanted to find out how AMISOM planned to implement the revised Concept of Operations (CONOPS) that was endorsed by the African Union Peace and Security Council at its 544th meeting in September last year. The revised CONOPS for AMISOM aims to create and preserve an enabling environment for the unfolding political, peace and reconciliation processes in Somalia.
The delegation also looked at ways of assisting Somali security institutions alongside AMISOM troops, execute their mandate of keeping the country safe and warding off threats posed by Al Shabaab and other armed militant groups. The visit further evaluated the Mission’s readiness for the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections, scheduled later this year.
Maj. Gen. Francis Okello, who led the delegation from the Peace Support Operations Division said; “Our visit here is to find out the preparedness of troops to support this political process. The second key aspect of the visit is: as you are aware last year in August, AMISOM and the African Union Headquarters produced a new CONOPs and this visit is to find out how that Concept of Operations, in support with the political process in Somalia is unfolding.”
The delegation also visited AMISOM troops stationed in the port city of Marka and held meetings with elders, local residents and Commanders, to clearly understand the security and administrative issues in the region. This was in view of recent allegations in the media that AMISOM had withdrawn from Marka.
However the allegations were denied by the top AMISOM leadership led by the Special Representative of the African Union Commission chairperson for Somalia, Ambassador Francisco Madeira. Recently Ambassador Madeira issued a statement, assuring both local and international community that the port city of Marka was firmly under the control of AMISOM troops and Somali National Army (SNA).
Col. Peter Omola, the Commander of the Ugandan AMISOM contingent stationed in Marka, explained to the AU delegates that he made a recent decision to readjust troop’s positions. This, Col. Omola said, was intended to avoid civilian casualties in the event of any combat engagements, and to consolidate AMISOM positions in the outskirts of the town.
“We are firmly in control of Marka town itself. We are patrolling the area day and night. We also have a detachment of SNA in this location. At the same time, the population is very positive. We are cooperating with the population. The population is supporting AMISOM operations. They are giving us information despite threats and intimidation from Al-Shabaab,” said Col. explained.
Lt. Col. Paul Njuguna, the AMISOM Force Spokesperson, dispelled recent media reports that the African Union troops had withdrawn from the strategic port city.
“We have visited this area so that we can come out with the facts as they are on the ground. We do remember a few days ago, there were a myriad of reports in the media on Marka. We are in Marka to certify that Marka is a peaceful town. The people in Marka are going on with their lives as normal and they are going to achieve peace in their lives.”
The Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Crowd Chirenje, a member of the visiting African Union delegation said, “At the end of this visit, we are going to give a feedback to people who make the decisions and actions that we need to take at our level as managers of the Mission, to support the Mission, to support the Federal Government of Somalia to help realise lasting peace and stability in Somalia.”