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Smooth Transition: AU Envoy Reassures Somalis Amid ATMIS Troop Withdrawal



By: Hassan Yarrow

MOGADISHU—The African Union senior envoy to Somalia has assured Somalis that the security handover will be well-coordinated and will not lead to a “security vacuum.”

Mohamed El-Amine Souef, the AU Special Representative for Somalia, made the remarks after a two-day visit to Jowhar, a city in south-central Somalia.

The visit was part of the AU envoy’s tour of the Federal Member States (FMS) to assess the operational readiness, welfare, and morale of the troops as the continental body prepares for a follow-up mission after the exit of ATMIS.

According to the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2710(2023), ATMIS is mandated to withdraw 4,000 troops in the third phase of the troop drawdown, to be replaced by Somali security forces.

This follows the earlier withdrawal of 5,000 troops and the handover of 17 military bases to the Somali National Army during the first and second phases of the drawdown, which concluded in 2023.

Souef praised the performance of the Burundian troops in ATMIS, urging them to remain vigilant and work closely with the Somali security forces and the local community.

He also commended the UN and ATMIS personnel stationed in Jowhar for their commitment and sacrifice to the peacebuilding process in Somalia.

“Even as ATMIS troops drawdown, we will ensure there is no security vacuum,” Souef said. “The transition will be well coordinated between the federal member states, the Somali government, and international partners.”

The AU envoy expressed confidence in Somalia’s recent election to the UN Security Council, its admission to the East African Community, and the lifting of the arms embargo as positive signs for the country’s future and the entire continent.

Marius Ngendabanka, the ATMIS deputy force commander in charge of operations and plans, reiterated the AU mission’s commitment to strengthening peacebuilding efforts in the region and working with the Somali National Army to secure Hirshabelle State.

“We are here to help Somalia restore peace and stability, and we will continue working toward achieving this noble goal,” Ngendabanka said.

The smooth transition of security responsibilities from ATMIS to the Somali forces will be crucial in the country’s ongoing efforts to combat the threat of Al-Shabaab and maintain stability in the region.


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