Somalia stands at the crossroads: In a significant development regarding the nation’s security transition, the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU) convened its 1177th meeting on 30 September 2023. The meeting, which aimed to deliberate on the Federal Government of Somalia’s (FGS) request for a technical pause of phase 2 drawdown of 3,000 African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) uniformed personnel, brought to the fore several concerns about the nation’s direction.
Addis Ababa, ETHIOPIA.
The meeting began with opening remarks by Ambassador Churchill Ewumbue Monono, the Chairperson of the PSC for September 2023, followed by inputs from various dignitaries, including Ambassador Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, and Ambassador Souef Mohamed El-Amine, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission for Somalia and Head of ATMIS. Their discourse set the stage for a deeper understanding of the prevailing security concerns in Somalia and the region.
The FGS’s stance on the Somali Transition Plan (STP) raised eyebrows, particularly the assertion by Somalia’s National Security Advisor, Hussein Sheikh-Ali, known as Hussein Maalim, that the STP was misaligned with the current government’s goals as it had been negotiated by the previous administration. The sudden change in this stance, especially considering that just on 14 September, he had affirmed the need to adhere to the STP strictly, raised concerns regarding the consistency of Somalia’s diplomatic approach.
Funding concerns and push for self-reliance
One significant takeaway from the meeting was the PSC’s strong support for Somalia’s request for a technical pause in the drawdown of 3,000 ATMIS uniformed personnel. However, the PSC also noted potential shortfalls in financial resources that could impede the actualization of this three-month pause. In response, the council provided directives to the AU Commission to explore multiple avenues of resource mobilization. This includes engaging with the Federal Government of Somalia to mobilize internal resources and approaching its bilateral partners for financial support. Further avenues explored range from engagement with bilateral and multilateral partners to exploring options with the private sector and the African Members of the UN Security Council.
The PSC’s directives highlight the challenges Somalia faces in ensuring sustainable funding for its peacekeeping missions. By urging the Somali government to leverage internal resources and engage bilateral partners, the PSC emphasizes Somalia’s role in taking charge of its security future. This push for self-reliance and regional partnership underscores the necessity for Somalia to foster domestic and regional collaborations. It reflects the broader strategy for Somalia to be at the forefront of its peace and security initiatives, even as it navigates the complexities of international assistance and expectations.
Avoiding future ad hoc decisions
Previously, Uganda, along with other Troop Contributing Countries (TCCs) such as Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya, voiced its commitment, through a letter dated 25 September 2023, to work alongside the Government of Somalia and international partners in securing the requisite financial support for ATMIS.
The President of the UNSC, through a letter dated 27 September 2023, reaffirmed the UN’s commitment to continue supporting ATMIS till 31 October 2023.
The PSC’s communiqué encapsulated the broader sentiment by urging the FGS to prioritize various facets of its defence apparatus, especially in areas handed over by ATMIS, to ensure the preservation of the gains made in Somalia. The council also expressed its hope that informed decisions regarding the renewal of the ATMIS mandate, including its final exit by December 2024, would occur in a structured manner, avoiding future ad hoc decisions.
As Somalia navigates its security transition journey, the international community’s eyes remain fixed on the nation’s decisions and their implications for the broader Horn of Africa region. Only time will reveal if Somalia’s leadership can align its actions with its commitments to ensure stability in this pivotal period.