Farewell AMISOM, hello ATMIS

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The African Union (AU) Mission in Somalia – AMISOM – is fast reaching its expiry date and work is well underway on a new and different mission to take its place in the troubled east African country.

Part of this was a recent meeting in Mogadishu to discuss the mandate, composition, size, structure, and the Concept of Operations (CONOPs) for the proposed new AU mission in Somalia. It will go under the acronym ATMIS – the AU Transition Mission in Somalia.

AMISOM came into being via a decision of the AU Peace and Security Council in January 2007 with an initial six month mandate. It replaced the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Peace Support Mission to Somalia (IGASOM) a proposed inter-governmental authority on development protection and training mission in Somalia approved three months earlier. IGASOM carried the United Nations (UN) Security Council stamp of approval.

In February 2007, the UN Security Council authorised the AU to deploy a peacekeeping mission with a six month mandate. Its aim was to support a national reconciliation congress and report within 60 days on a possible UN peacekeeping mission.

In October 2014, the Security Council gave the green light to the AU to continue the Somalia mission until 30 November 2015. In August 2017, the UN Security Council issued resolution 2372 enabling gradual handing over of security responsibilities from AMISOM to Somali security forces contingent on the abilities of the Somali security forces and political and security progress in the country.

ATMIS’ mandate, according to Somali defence minister Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur will be to support the Somalia Federal Government (FGS) to implement the strategic objectives of the STP (Somalia Transition Plan). This, according to the continental body, is a comprehensive strategy developed by the FGS and its partners to steer gradual transfer of security responsibilities from AMISOM to Somali security forces.

AMISOM’s mandate expires on 31 March and the new mission is expected to be up and operational by then with, reportedly, time allowed for handover of various functions.

“The Somali Transition Plan,” is, according to UN deputy special representative Anita Gbeho, “a compass to guide our work, focused on delivering a comprehensive security transition in Somalia and the UN is committed to support this Somali-led process. I stress the reconfiguration of AMISOM to a new mission is a key part of this effort,” she told the technical meeting in the national capital.