The UN Security Council voted unanimously on Thursday, March 31, the creation in Somalia of a new peacekeeping force led by the African Union (AU), with the mission of fighting until at the end of 2024 against the Al-Shabaab jihadists. This force, called Atmis, will succeed the current AU Mission in Somalia (Amisom) and will see its strength of nearly 20,000 soldiers, police and civilians gradually reduced to zero by December 31, 2024.
Following a unanimous vote of its fifteen member states and “After many months of constructive exchanges, the UN Security Council has adopted a resolution […] reconfigures Amisom. It is now the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (Atmis)”announced the United Arab Emirates, which chaired the council in March.
In the midst of a diplomatic crisis at the UN with Russia, the United States welcomed this “rare opportunity for the board to help shape the transition of a mission” of peacekeeping. Their Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations, Richard Mills, praised “the efforts of the Federal Government of Somalia, the African Union and other stakeholders” on file regarding the armed conflict in this East African country.
The American diplomat recalled that the Al-Shabaab jihadists “represented for Somalia and more broadly for East Africa a formidable threat, capable of adapting”. And that it therefore needed a force “international led by Africa”like the Atmis, to counter “the largest and best-funded affiliate of Al-Qaeda”.
“Zero workforce” in December 2024
The mandate of Amisom, a force created in 2007, expired on March 31 and the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, had recommended at the beginning of the month to maintain until December 31 the current workforce, of exactly 19,626. soldiers, police and civilians.
According to the resolution voted on Thursday, the Atmis staff reduction plan will be carried out in four phases until the departure of all staff at the end of 2024. A first reduction of 2,000 soldiers must take place by December 31, 2022 , then several decreases at the end of each stage: March 2023, September 2023, June 2024 then “zero headcount” end of December 2024, according to the text of the resolution.
Somalia, and particularly its capital, Mogadishu, have been the scene of multiple attacks in recent weeks, including two that occurred last week in the center of the country, claimed by Al-Shabaab Islamists and which killed at least 48 people.
This country has also been waiting for more than a year for the election of a new parliament and a new president. The mandate of the current Head of State, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, known as “Farmajo”, expired in February 2021 without his having managed to organize a ballot. Since then, the process has progressed painfully, delayed by conflicts at the top of the executive and between the central government and certain states of the country.
After many postponements, the closing of the lower house elections has been set for Thursday 31 March. This step should open a new phase leading to the appointment of a new head of state. These repeated delays worry the international community, which believes that they divert the attention of the authorities from crucial issues for the country, first and foremost the Al-Shabaab insurrection.
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