yellowfintuna|AU seeks phased withdrawal of troops from Somalia to seal security gaps


MOGADISHUyellowfintuna, June 22 (Xinhua) -- The African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) has called for a phased approach to the withdrawal of peacekeepers from Somalia to avoid a potential security vacuum.

The AUPSC strongly backed Somalia's request made in May for a phased approach to the Phase 3 drawdown of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) to enable Mogadishu to maintain half of the troops that were expected to withdraw by the end of June.

yellowfintuna|AU seeks phased withdrawal of troops from Somalia to seal security gaps

"The AUPSC notes that the exit of AU Transition Mission in Somalia needs to be carefully harmonized with the follow-on mission that replaces ityellowfintuna, including the harmonization of Troop Contribution Countries (TCCs), to ensure that there is no security gap between Dec. 31, 2024 and Jan. 1, 2025," AUPSC said in a communique released by ATMIS Saturday.

During its meeting, the AUPSC said the ongoing offensive operations against the al-Shabab terror group and the full implementation of the Phase 3 drawdown could lead to capability gaps that may have significant implications for the security of Somalia and the wider region.

The AUPSC, which is the AU's decision-making organ for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts, expects the withdrawal of 4,000 ATMIS personnel to be divided into two tranches, namely 2,000 by the end of June and 2,000 by the end of September.

ATMIS withdrew 5,000 troops from Somalia and handed over 17 military bases to the Somali Security Forces during the first and second phases of the drawdown concluded in 2023.

The AU organ called for enhanced capacity of the national security sector, including systematic but rapid generation of forces, as the Somalia National Army continues to assume security responsibilities.

"The AUPSC expresses concern that the ongoing offensive operations, coupled with simultaneous drawdown, could leave a gap for al-Shabab to reorganize and conduct asymmetric attacks," it warned.

It reiterated the importance of force generation, regeneration, integration and capacity building both for the Somali government and the Federal Member States as major components in taking over security responsibilities.

The AUPSC emphasized that the new AU-led mission should focus on supporting Somalia to further degrade al-Shabab, provide security and prioritize the protection of civilians in Somalia.

According to the AU organ, the new force should engage in counterterrorism operations and also prioritize support for the security and political stabilization of Somalia, among other tasks.