The top African Union Special Representative for Somalia Ambassador Francisco Madeira has reiterated AMISOM’s support for the recently endorsed transition plan but called for a cautious implementation to protect gains made in stabilizing the country.
Ambassador Madeira made the remarks, on Wednesday, while presiding at a medal awards ceremony for 21 staff officers, who will be rotating out of the Mission after completing their tour of duty.
“All our commanders have said yes to the transition. All of them without exception; the sector commanders who bear the brunt of this war despite all the challenges said yes to the transition,” he added.
Ambassador Madeira noted that the transition is a necessity, driven by a number of factors but should be implemented cautiously, so as not to erode the gains made in Somalia over the last decade.
“We need to transition because the Somali’s want us to transition, because the partners feel that we should transition and we are going to transition, but, frankly, and in all honesty, we would not want to see the things that we won with so much sacrifice to go down the drain,” said Ambassador Madeira, who is also the head of the Mission.
“We don’t want that and this is the challenge we are facing now,” he added.
Last year, the UN Security Council authorized a gradual troop reduction amid transition of security responsibility to Somali National Security Forces.
AMISOM, the Federal Government of Somalia and development partners have agreed on a transition plan, which was the topic of discussion at a high-level meeting in Brussels early this month.
The SRCC noted that the transition plan must involve the people of Somalia for it to succeed and ensure the gains made so far are not eroded.
“We need to straighten up this place but we cannot do it without the Somalis. We have to handover to people who are prepared to receive it and hold it and keep it and even improve it further, and that is the challenge,” Ambassador Madeira observed.
The head of the Mission reiterated AMISOM’s commitment to ensuring the transition plan succeeds and will continue working closely with the people of Somalia in stabilizing the country.
The ceremony was attended by senior officials, among them, the Deputy AU Special Representative for Somalia, Simon Mulongo; the Force Commander, Lt. Gen. Jim Beesigye Owoyesigire; Acting AMISOM Police Commissioner, Christine Alalo and Deputy Force Commander in charge Operations and Plans, Maj. Gen. Charles Tai Gituai.
Others were Ambassadors of Uganda and Kenya, Prof. Sam Turyamuhika and Lucas Tumbo, respectively; delegations to the AU/UN joint review teams from AU and UN headquarters and Brig Gen Pietro Addis, the Commander of the European Union Training Mission in Somalia.
Ambassador Madeira hailed the 21 officers for their hard work in stabilizing Somalia.
“From the discussions we had today, it became clear that despite all the difficulties we had, we performed well and produced the expected results. The things that we were not able to do, cannot be attributed to us,” he stated.
Ambassador Madeira praised the openness and frankness exhibited at the review exercise undertaken by the AU/UN joint review of AMISOM, adding that the information gathered will help inform the implementation of the transition plan.
Notable among the 21 officers from Kenya, Egypt, Ghana, Uganda, Burundi, Swaziland, Sierra Leone and Ethiopia were Col. Paul Mwasi, the Chief Operations Officer; Brigadier Assefa Endalew and Brigadier Victor Nduwumukiza, the Contingent Commanders of Burundi and Ethiopia, respectively and the Col. Marah Christian, the Chief Military Personnel and Administration.
Despite that numerous challenges, the SRCC expressed optimism that victory is certain against the Al-Shabaab.