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FILE PHOTO: African Union peacekeepers from Uganda at the Halane military camp in Mogadishu, Somalia. /CFP

ATMIS pledges smooth transition of security in Somalia

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The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) vowed to ensure a smooth transition of full security responsibilities to Somalia’s security forces before it fully withdraws from the Horn of Africa country.

ATMIS started reducing its footprint in Somalia after a UN Security Council resolution last year directed the withdrawal of its troops from Somalia.

The mission already completed the first and second phases of its drawdown. 5000 troops are gone. ATMIS also handed over 13 military bases to the Somali Security Forces.

A third phase, which targets 4,000 troops, is scheduled for the end of June. The complete withdrawal should be done by the end of the year.

But, as ATMIS troops gradually leave Somalia, there remain fears their withdrawal will create a security vacuum that may embolden al-Shabaab to regroup. The militant group has lost swathes of territory since government forces conducted large-scale military offensives over the last two years.

AU Special Representative for Somalia Mohamed El-Amine Souef called on Somalia’s international partners to provide adequate support in vital areas to reinforce the gains made in securing the country so far.

“It is therefore imperative that all partners align their efforts and support Somalia to ensure smooth coordination and a successful transition that promotes its long-term stability and development,” Souef said.

Souef added that the Somali government was taking part in “open and constructive” discussions to exploit the lessons learned from the previous drawdown phases.

(Story compiled with assistance from wire reports)

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