By Kampala Post Reporter
A delegation from the African Union Peace Support Operations Division (PSOD) is in Somalia to assess peacekeeping activities as the transfer of responsibilities from AMISOM to Somali national security forces begin to take shape.
During its four-day stay in Somalia, the 10-man delegation will hold discussions with top officials from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS), the Federal Government of Somalia and Ambassadors of Troop Contributing Countries (TCCs).
The discussions will focus on a wide range of issues among them peacekeeping activities, achievements made and challenges being experienced in securing Somalia and transfer of responsibilities to Somali national security forces among others.
On Tuesday, the delegation led by Maj. Gen Francis Okello, the Chief of Plans and Operations in the PSOD, held discussions with representatives of the Federal Government of Somalia, led by Abdisaid Ali, the National Security Advisor to the President.
The meeting held at the Presidential Palace in Mogadishu was also attended by the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) for Somalia, Ambassador Francisco Madeira.
Speaking after the closed-door meeting, Ambassador Madeira explained that the delegation is in the country on a routine assessment mission.
“They have very specific objectives to see how we are working, what our challenges are; what are our relations with our hosts and how we plan for the transition,” the SRCC said.
He noted that the delegation had frank discussions with the Federal Government of Somalia officials on issues focusing on peace and stability.
“We had the opportunity to speak frankly about the challenges we are facing; coordination activities; how to enhance interaction and unity, and particularly the political atmosphere and movement between us,” Ambassador Madeira observed.
In August last year, the United Nations Security Council approved a reduction of AMISOM uniformed personnel to a maximum 21,626 by 31 December 2017 amid a transfer of responsibilities to Somali national security forces.
Ambassador Madeira said the discussions at the Presidential Palace also dwelt on the transition plan and the implementation challenges.
Also present at the meeting were senior AMISOM officials, among them, Force Commander, Lt. Gen. Jim Owoyesigire; the Acting Police Commissioner, Christine Alalo, and the Chief Operations Officer, Col. Paul Mwasi.
Later in the day, Deputy SRCC Simon Mulongo chaired a closed-door meeting with representatives of Troop Contributing Countries (TCCs) to discuss security matters.
Mr. Mulongo welcomed the visit by the PSOD delegation, saying the assessment was necessary given the crucial contribution the TCC’s have so far made in stabilizing Somalia.
“The AU Commission has delegated this team to come and carry out an on ground assessment in terms of preparedness, in terms of plans and in terms of activities and also to look at our relationship with the key players like the Federal Government of Somalia, the federal member states and also our supporting institution; the UN, especially UNSOS,” Mr. Mulongo explained.
As part of its exit strategy, AMISOM has begun implementing a conditions based transition plan that will see it handing over the country’s security responsibilities to Somali national security forces.
The Peace Support Operations Division (PSOD) is mandated to plan, launch, sustain, monitor and liquidate all Peace Support Operations (PSOs) authorized by the African Union.