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Security Council in a first to cut Amisom force by 500 troops end year

Storyline:National News, Security

Amisom and troops contributing countries had sought an increase of 4,000 troops ahead of draw-down

A guard of honour mounted for the Chief of Defense Forces (CDF), of the Uganda People’s Defence Force Gen David Muhoozi who arrived on official visit in Mogadishu, Somalia on 15 August 2017/AMISOM Photo

The UN Security Council has authorized the reduction of Amisom forces by 500 at the end of this year, the first of such a move signaling commitment to cutting down foreign force interventions in Somalia in the last ten years since the first Amisom troops landed in the Horn of Africa nation.

The Council authorized a further reduction by 1,000 troops by October 2018. As authorized in a UN resolution May this year, Amisom troops number 22, 126. The resolution (2372) unanimously adopted by the Council Wednesday also set the minimum of police personnel at 1,040 and five Formed Police Units.

The move by the Council to downsize the AU force signals for the first time efforts towards a draw-down of the force by late 2018 paving the way for the Somali Security Forces to take charge. The draw-down will however be based on the prevailing conditions which include the level and capacity of Somali forces to take over. Amisom’s Military Operations Coordination Committee (MOCC) meeting in Addis Ababa January called for an increase of 4,000 troops, a call reiterated by Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta during the May London conference.

The resolution also extended Amisom’s mandate in Somalia until May 31, 2018.

Somalia’s permanent representative to the UN, Abukar Dahir Osman said the withdrawal of Amisom forces must be strictly tied to the prevailing conditions. “The transition must be conducted in a cautious manner with sustained, predictable funding, he said, as too early a withdrawal — based on artificial or unrealistic deadlines — could jeopardize security gains and “send the wrong signal” to the enemy forces of Al-Shabaab.

Donors will be meeting in the October to make commitments on the funding of the Security Pact agreed during the May London conference. The Pact envisages a financing model for the National Security Architecture presented by Somalia during the May conference.

The National Security Architecture proposed the formation of a 22,000 strong Somali National Army in addition to 32,000 police officers which will operate both at the state and federal level. Out of the 22,000 troops, 4,000 will form the Special Forces squad, Danab.

The Council also authorized Amisom to ‘enable the gradual handing over of security responsibilities from AMISOM to the Somali security forces contingent on abilities of the Somali security forces and political and security progress in Somalia.”

The Council further called for the delineation of roles and responsibilities of Somalia’s security institutions, agreeing on governance and oversight structures to identify capability gaps which will guide Amisom and donor’s support priorities.