Somalia and the African Union on Thursday agreed to have their technical teams relook at the future of the combat mission, Amisom, whose mandate was extended recently to the end of March.
And in a show of compromise, the two sides who have recently haggled on what form the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) takes, appeared to agree on the basics, including that the future of the mission must bank on predictable funding, and that whatever comes should focus on al-Shabaab and other terror merchants in Somalia.
At a meeting between Somalia’s federal government, the African Union Commission and representatives from the African Union Mission in Somalia, it was generally agreed that technical teams begin discussions from January 10 for 30 days.
The technical teams will then resubmit their report to the African Union Peace and Security Council from February 11, to inform the actual format the mission will take.
The decision, indicated in a joint communiqué on Thursday, came after the AU Commission delegation led by Alhaji Sarjoh Bah, Director of Conflict Management met in Mogadishu with government officials, the Minister for Defence Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur and his Internal Security counterpart Abdullahi Mohamed Nor. Others were the Amisom boss, Mozambican diplomat Francisco Madeira and senior military officials in Amisom.
They agreed that Somalia will resubmit its Transition Plan, a document initially tabled to the AU Peace and Security Council in February, arguing that the Amisom stays on until 2023, as Somalia gradually picks up duty to protect liberated areas.
A joint technical team of officials from the government and the AU will resume discussions on January 10 and finish by February 2022.
Both sides, the communiqué said, acknowledge “the need for a reconfigured Mission” and recognise “the need for a reconfigured AU transition Mission in Somalia to have a practicable and sustainable funding mechanism.”
The Amisom, created in 2007 to fight al-Shabaab, has stayed on for more than 13 years as the militant threat persisted. But while both sides acknowledge the Mission’s role in defeating the militia from crucial cities such as Mogadishu and Kismayu, Somalia argues it needs to start taking over responsibility by improving capacity of her own troops.
The AU appeared wary of a quick handover, citing the existing threat of Al-Shabaab, which still controls a significant swathe of the countryside.