Mogadishu — The African Union Mission in Somalia (Atmis) said it has handed over nine military bases to the Somali government, marking the completion of the second phase of the troop withdrawal from the country.
Seven of the nine military bases were handed over Monday at a ceremony held in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, Atmis said in a statement issued Monday evening.
“The drawdown of 3,000 troops and handover of the seven military bases which conclude Bio Cadale, Raga Ceel, Parliament, State House, Qorillow, Burahache, and Kismayo Old Airport ENDF marks a watershed moment in the ongoing Somalia security transition process,” Atmis said.
According to Atmis, two other military bases that were closed are Sarille and Old Airport KDF.
Alhaji Sarjoh Bah, director of conflict management within the Political Affairs, Peace and Security Department of the African Union Commission who spoke at the event in Mogadishu, said the drawdown marked a significant milestone in Somalia’s positive trajectory.
Bah said the drawdown is also a testament to the critical progress made by Somalia since May 2022 under the visionary leadership of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
He said Somalia’s security forces have demonstrated incredible courage and resilience in degrading Al Shabaab as part of sustaining security sector development.
“Our collective efforts have enabled us to carry out an orderly and smooth transition of 2,000 troops last year and, this month 3,000 Atmis troops through the handing over of seven key Forward Operating Bases (FOBs),” Bah said.
He noted that the orderly transition has been due to the strong efforts of the tripartite committee of Atmis, the Somalian government and the UN Support Office in Somalia.
“The successful completion of this drawdown Phase, notwithstanding significant challenges, including the El Nino, is a testament to the will of the Federal Government of Somalia to an orderly transition,” he said.
Bah said the African Union is fully committed to completing the security transition on time, in particular, beginning preparations for the Phase 3 drawdown of 4,000 Atmis troops by June 30.
He said the AU is equally supportive of implementing the Somalia Security Development Plan under Somalia’s leadership, recently endorsed in New York in December 2023, which has come in the wake of other remarkable achievements, including the admission of Somalia into the East African Community (EAC), the debt relief and the lifting of the arms embargo on Somalia.
In this plan, Bah said they have agreed with the government to explore modalities for a post-Atmis security arrangement to be submitted to the AU and UN Security Councils by March 31 for endorsement.
“We believe this is a critical step towards achieving long-term peace and stability in Somalia, and we urge all stakeholders to support this effort,” he added.