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Amisom opens up operations to media

MOGADISHU: The African Union Mission in Somalia has embarked on a stock-taking move, to bring to light its eleven-year operations in the war-torn easternmost country of Africa, on the Horn of Africa.

The stock taking will take about one month and during the process, journalists from troop contributing countries will visit the army bases spread throughout the country.

The exercise started May 2, 2018, with 14 Ugandan journalists for a 3-day field engagement.

AMISOM Spokesperson, Lt Col Richard Omwega told the journalists upon arrival in Mogadishu, that this was intended to account for the presence of foreign troops in Somalia.

“We want you to witness what is going on such that it informs your reporting on what [these] brothers and sisters are paying the price for,” he said.

There are five troop contributing countries to the onslaught against al-Shabaab extremists in Somalia. They include; Uganda, Kenya, Burundi and Djibouti as well as Ethiopia.

During the open-media engagement, Col Omwega said, the journalists will visit States where their home troops operate.

He however cautioned journalists to mind their personal safety, since the situation is yet to return to normal.

“The security situation is very volatile. We actually get worried when the situation is so calm at the moment,” he said.

“Because you cannot then tell what the actors (both the al-Shabaab and government forces) are up to,” he added.

AMISOM exit Plan

Following the “United Nations Security Council Resolution 2372” AMISOM has to vacate Somalia and hand the country’s security back to the Federal Government of Somalia by 2021.

There is also mounting domestic pressure from politicians and civil society in troop contributing countries, calling for their forces to return home.

However, whereas there seems to be commitment by the partner states to withdraw their troops, the situation is still volatile, often characterized with spontaneous successful attacks by the a-lShabaab militants.
In fact there has been a phased withdraw plan which presently hangs in balance because of the sporadic attacks that claim numbers of innocents lives.

The Country’s major infrastructure and core agencies are also manned by AMISOM troops, mainly from Sector One (Uganda) leaving a huge gap to be filled by the local forces.

Despite attempts by AMISOM to train and equip Somali nationals with requisite skills to manage their own country’s security, a lot remains wanting of the forces (local) in terms of capacity and expertise on war intelligence.

As to whether AMISOM will quit or stay, this remains a lingering question given the country’s present vulnerability.

But Col Omwega told the journalists during the interface, that the UN Security Council Resolution will be respected.

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