By Dennis Katungi
The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) is an active regional Peace support operation run by the African Union with the approval of the United Nations. It was created by the African Union’s Peace and Security Council in January 2007 and on the 20th February 2007; the UN Security Council authorized the AU to deploy the mission to Somalia.
This Mission is currently under review and President Museveni was asked to chart the way forward of the troop contributing countries. This emanates from the recent UN Security Council resolution 2372(2017) whose main thrust was the phased reduction and draw-down of AMISOM troops from Somalia.
President Museveni has already initiated moves to scrutinize the draw-down with a view to keep Somalia secure and on a steady progress to stand on its own. At the summit that he organized on the margins of the UN General Assembly on 21st Sept 2017, the troop contributing countries highlighted pertinent issues arising out of the UN Security Council resolution 2372. The Kampala summit next week is a continuation of this analytical effort.
What’s on the agenda for this summit? Key is a review of the current situation in Somalia (political, economic & security), is Somalia’s capacity anywhere near to standing on its own? Is the continued role of AMISOM in Somalia sustainable? Is there a mechanism for predictable funding to sustain the peace and security in the post AMISOM era?
Following the joint strategic review conducted by the AU and the UN last year, the Peace & Security Council of the AU endorsed a transition under which AMISOM will gradually reduce its presence while the Somali forces will progressively take over security tasks. This process is premised on predictable funding for both AMISOM and the Somali forces, whose capacity requires significant strengthening. It is envisaged that this transition should be complete by 2022, with the complete withdrawal of AMISOM.
The summit in Kampala will be reviewing progress on agreed milestones, for example, the Secretary General of the UN was requested to submit a report on the future funding for AMISOM by November 2017, but he deferred the submission to end of February 2018, tasking the former Under Secretary General for Peace keeping, Jean-Marie Guehenno to complete the report. The Kampala summit will want to know if this report will be ready on time.
What President Museveni and other troop contributing countries want to avoid is a strategic reversal and loss of the gains achieved thus far. No effort should be spared to ensure that the huge sacrifices made by the Somalis and the AMISOM troop contributing countries as well as the investment of the internaltional community are not lost. In the light of the above, the summit will be held at an opportune moment.
At present, we are aware about the challenges faced by the Ugandan contingent in Somalia. While its area of responsibility has expanded, manpower as well as force enablers and multipliers have remained static or even reduced. The Ugandan contingent is responsible for a vast stretch from Mogadishu to Barawe and on to Baledogle. Those gaps are exploited by Al Shabaab to our force’s detriment.
Extended lines of communication and very poor road conditions hamper smooth force sustainability efforts. There is lack of effective local structures in liberated areas, and when you add the lack of Somali National Forces’ capacity to hold and defend liberated areas, this poses operational setbacks.
Somalia still has existential inter clan conflicts which undermine the functioning of the State. Equally dangerous, Al shabaab continues to use improvised explosive devices and ambushes as a weapon of choice. This affects mission capability through attrition of both personnel and equipment.
When you put these scenarios together, they are not in tandem with the UN Security Council Resolution 2372 to draw down troops, e.g. Uganda being required to pull out 1,283 troops by end of 2018. These and many other considerations will be tackled at the Kampala summit on 2nd March 2018 with the ultimate plan of developing a realistic AMISOM transitional approach to security and the dividends of total peace and stability in Somalia. The summit will equally call for an enhanced coordination of interventions of the AU, International Partners, AMISOM & the Federal Government of Somalia.
Representatives of UN Agencies, regional organizations, AMISOM troop contributing countries as well as the permanent members of the UN Security Council are expected to attend.
The writer is the Communicatins & Media Relations Manager, Uganda Media Centre