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Somalia urged to protect hard-won security gains amid transition

By Xinhua

MOGADISHU, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) — The African Union and United Nations officials have called on Somalia to ensure that the hard-won security gains thus far are not jeopardized as the AU forces continue with the drawdown in the country. Acting head of the AU peace support operations division Zinurine Alghali called on all stakeholders to ensure that the stabilization efforts are not lost. Alghali reaffirmed the African Union’s commitment to ensuring Somalia takes over full security responsibility to guarantee stability, development, and prosperity for the people of Somalia. “We want to commend the efforts of AU Transition Mission (ATMIS) in implementing the mandate,” he said in a statement issued in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, Sunday evening. Alghali and other AU and UN officials were on a joint visit to Baidoa in the Southwest State on the technical assessment for the first phase of ATMIS drawdown. Mohammed El-Amine Souef, the special representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission for Somalia and head of ATMIS, said the joint technical assessment for the first phase of ATMIS drawdown and planning for the second phase are progressing steadily. Souef said both the technical assessment and planning for the second phase of the drawdown have had to run concurrently due to the tight deadlines imposed, but ATMIS remains committed to meeting them. In the current mandate of ATMIS, the UN Security Council Resolution 2687 requests the African Union and Somalia in consultation with the UN and international partners to conduct a joint technical assessment by Aug. 31 to evaluate the phase-one drawdown of 2,000 troops and identify lessons, as well as the implications of the revised National Security Architecture and force generation, to inform planning for the remaining phases of ATMIS drawdown. The Resolution also requests ATMIS to draw down 3,000 uniformed personnel by Sept. 30 to reduce military personnel to 14,626 from 17,626. The head of the UN Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS) Aisa Kirabo Kacyira affirmed the commitment of the world body to ensuring a smooth transition and lauded all stakeholders for the success of the first phase of the ATMIS troop drawdown. “I want to say that the first phase of the drawdown that took place in June was successful and provided us with good lessons based on which we will be able to provide even better support to the second phase,” Kacyira said. She said so far the tripartite technical committee comprising the Somali government, ATMIS and UNSOS planning the second phase of the drawdown is making good progress. Peter Kimani Muteti, ATMIS deputy force commander in charge of logistics and support, who also leads the ATMIS technical evaluation committee, said that preparations are at an advanced stage to draw down 3,000 ATMIS troops. The technical team is expected to submit their report to the UN Security Council by Sept. 15. Enditem

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