Sub-Saharan Africa
Sputnik brings you all the most recent information, major events, heroes and views, including breaking news, images, videos, analyses, and features.

AU Assures Somalia of No 'Security Vacuum' as It Transfers Military Base Amid ATMIS Withdrawal

© Photo Twitter / @ATMIS_SomaliaATMIS in Somalia
ATMIS in Somalia - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 17.06.2024
The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) includes peacekeeping troops from Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda, aiming to stabilize the country and fight terrorism. The withdrawal of troops has raised concerns within the African Union Peace and Security Council about a possible "security vacuum."
The African Union (AU) mission in Somalia has assured the nation that the planned troop drawdown in Somalia will not create a "security vacuum" as efforts are made to ensure a "smooth transition."
According to the mission, the transition will be well-coordinated between the federal member states (FMS), the Somali government, and international partners.
During his visit, AU Special Representative for Somalia Mohamed El-Amine Souef thanked the Burundian military for their efforts in battling and weakening al-Shabaab*. The representative's visit is a component of the FMS tour aimed at evaluating the troops' morale, welfare, and operational readiness as the AU gets ready for a follow-up mission following ATMIS's withdrawal, according to ATMIS's press release.
Souef asked the soldiers to maintain their vigilance and to collaborate closely with the local population and Somali security forces.
"We visited to assess the work of our contingent, and everyone we met spoke highly of our troops, including the president, civil society representatives, elders, and local authority officials. They praised our contingent's commitment, experience, and willingness to support and assist in terms of civil-military cooperation and security," Souef said.
Somali security forces guard the entrance to the SYL hotel which was attacked by al-Shabaab Islamic extremist rebels on Tuesday night, in Mogadishu, Somalia Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 03.06.2024
Sub-Saharan Africa
Somalia Announces Deadline for Ethiopian ATMIS Troops Withdrawal Amid Rising Tensions
In addition, ATMIS highlighted the strategic significance of the military base in the Lower Shabelle region, which has been under the ATMIS Uganda People's Defense Forces since 2019 and was handed over to the Somali security forces, marking the start of the third phase of the troop drawdown.
The base serves as a buffer zone approximately 60 km west of Mogadishu, Somalia's capital.
"This transfer of the Barire military base is not just a transfer of physical assets, but it symbolizes the progress we have made together in our shared mission," ATMIS Uganda Contingent Commander Anthony Lukwago Mbuusi said in a statement.
Mbuusi, who handed over the base to Muhudin Ahmed, the Somali National Army (SNA) representative, expressed hope that they would continue to work "toward a brighter future of Somalia."
"Together, we will continue to work toward a brighter future for Somalia, one built on cooperation, mutual respect, and the common goal of finding lasting peace," he empathized.
Ahmed, in return, praised the ATMIS Uganda troops for their commitment to the transition and their sacrifices in ensuring the return of peace to Somalia. He affirmed that the SNA would continue to secure Barire town and its inhabitants from al-Shabaab attacks and other illegal armed groups.
The UN Security Council's Resolution 2710 (2023) mandates that ATMIS must withdraw 4,000 troops, with Somali security forces taking their place, by the end of June as part of the third phase of the drawdown. Earlier, the Somali administration announced a deadline of December 2024 for the removal of all Ethiopian troops from its territory.

In view of security concerns, Somalia has requested a new post-ATMIS mission to act as a force for local and international community protection.

In total, during the first two phases of the drawdown, 13 military bases were turned over to Somali forces, and 5,000 troops left the East African nation.
* Terrorist organization banned in Russia and many other countries.