Session on the Horn of Africa

Session on the Horn of Africa

Date | 26 November 2020

Tomorrow (26 November) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is set to discuss on the situation in the Horn of Africa, with a specific focus on how best to support the transitions in Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan. It is organized at the initiative of Ethiopia, as Chairperson of the PSC for the month, the session is intended to put the limelight on positive developments in these countries with a view to identify ways of consolidating conditions for expanding stability and peace in these situations. The session is expected to take place through VTC.

The AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smail Chergui is scheduled to make a statement. The Chairperson of the AU High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) Thabo Mbeki is also expected to deliver a statement. Representatives of countries of the Horn of Africa under consideration, namely, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan are also expected to make statements. UN Special Envoy of the Horn of Africa, Parfait Onanga- Anyanga, representatives of Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the European Union are amongst the speakers that will also be addressing the PSC.

The last time the Council convened a session on the Horn of Africa was at its 810th meeting, held on 22 November 2018, which among others requested the AU Commission to provide quarterly briefings on the regional developments, though it did not materialize as the
Council rather held several country specific sessions on member states of the region. This session, convened after a two-year hiatus, is expected to shed light on the positive developments in the region, specifically the transitions underway in Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan, and explore ways and means to support these promising but fragile transitions.

The Horn of Africa region has indeed registered positive strides in recent times. Tomorrow’s session is expected to capture the political transition underway in Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan with the potential to move the region along the road to sustainable peace. In relation to Somalia, the upcoming election is expected to dominate the Council’s discussion given the fast- approaching electoral season with a decisive impact on the future of the country. It is to be recalled that the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) and Federal Members of States (FMS) achieved progress in September over the modalities of the election after rounds of negotiations and consultations. The parties were also able to reach a compromise on some of the outstanding issues. Among others, they agreed to shelve the universal suffrage (one-person-one-vote) in favor of the indirect voting arrangement; to hold the parliamentary elections from 1 to 27 December and the presidential election on 8 February 2021; and form a dispute resolution committee to address electoral disputes.

The positive steps are, however, fraught with challenges, which, if not properly managed, could spiral into violence and indeed reverse the progress achieved. A key challenge remains the fragile security situation for the election to take place. Al-Shabaab has continued to unleash its potent force as it stepped up attacks in recent months. Dozens are killed, including civilians, due to clashes between Al-Shabaab’s fighters and security forces as well as roadside bombings. Tension may escalate in the run-up to the elections; and any delay from either side in the implementation of the compromises reached in September may risk conflict. Jubaland President Ahmed Madobe rejects the upcoming election from taking place in Gedo demanding withdrawal of federal government’s force from the region. The standoff may further deteriorate in the coming weeks leading up to the election. The security situation of Somalia is further compounded with the prevailing humanitarian crisis accentuated by floods, locust swarm and COVID19. There is therefore a need for steps to be taken for mitigating the adverse consequences of these persisting challenges, including ensuring through political and technical support that Somalia averts fiercely contested elections marred by irregularities and violence.

The other issue that will be discussed for consolidating stability in Somalia is the international security support for the country, notably the role of AMISOM. AMISOM’s drawdown is planned to proceed with its mandate ending on 28 February 2021 to clear the path for Somalia to take the lead over its security matters. It is to be recalled that the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2520 (2020) to renew AMISOM’s mandate until February 28 2021 despite PSC’s decision to extend the mandate for 12 months from May 27, 2020 during its 923rd session. The session affords a good opportunity for member states to deliberate on the future of AMISOM in light of the political and security developments in Somalia and assess the readiness of the government of Somalia to assume full responsibility over its security by the end of 2021 in accordance with the security transition plan. For the PSC, it is also of interest that the AU articulates AU’s views on the UN’s strategic assessment on the security support needed to prepare Somalia to take lead in security by end of 2021, and to take decisions on AMISOM’s reconfiguration envisaged under Resolution 2520.

Sudan has seen the most promising positive developments in the Horn of Africa region. Further positive developments emerged as the PSC convenes its 952nd meeting on the situation in Sudan held on 6 October and since then. It is to be recalled that the Transitional Government of Sudan, the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) and Sudan Liberation Movement of Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM) clinched a landmark peace deal on 3 October in Juba, a step welcomed by the Council in its 952nd session. The peace deal sets out that rebel leaders will take seats in the sovereign council while their armed factions integrated into the national army. As the first step to give effect to the terms of the peace deal, the joint meeting of the Sovereign Council and Cabinet approved the agreement as well as its harmonization with the Constitutional Declaration, the provisional constitution covering the transition period. Accordingly, changes have been made to the composition of the Sovereign Council by raising the number of seats to 14 so as to accommodate the 3 seats allocated for the rebel groups’ signatories of the peace agreement. The return of SRF’s leader, Al-Hadi Idriss, to Khartoum on November 15- a move hailed by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of Sudan’s ruling sovereign council- is also a major advance that gives impetus for the implementation of the peace agreement.

The removal of Sudan from the State Sponsors of Terrorism (SST) is another positive development that would interest PSC members. It is to be recalled that the Council, in its previous session on Sudan, appealed to the US to the removal of Sudan from the SST list without any conditions. On 23 October, the US President Trump signed order to delist Sudan after USD 335 million wired in form of compensation for victims of the 1998 terrorist attack, opening the path for the recovery of Sudan’s battered economy. This is a big step forward to start the long road to economic recovery, which the Council is expected to welcome. The removal is hoped to attract foreign investment and unblock Sudan from accessing possible debt relief under IMF and World Bank’s Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. It is to be recalled that the PSC appealed to the international community to support Sudan in overcoming its economic difficulties in cognizant of the critical role that the economic revival could play in keeping the transition on track.

Yet, securing participation of rebel groups that have not joined the Sudan peace agreement- the Sudan Liberation Movement-North led by Abdelaziz al-Hilu (Sudan’s largest single rebel group) and the Sudan Liberation Movement-Army led by Abdel-Wahid Nour- should be secured. The economy is still in shambles while inflation continues to surge due to soaring food prices. Protests are reported in Khartoum and other cities in October over the worsening economic situation. In the Eastern part, community clash erupted between ethnic Beja and Beni Amer following Prime Minister Hamdok’s dismissal of ethnic Beni Amer governor of Kassala state on October 13.

The last time the PSC considered the situation in South Sudan was in its 945th session held on 15 September 2020 South in which the Council commends parties for the positive steps taken in the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS) and further encouraged them to step up their efforts in the implementation of all outstanding Transitional tasks. However, little has moved since then except with some headways made on the issue of responsibility sharing at the state and local government levels. One of the outstanding issues that may be of interest to the Council is the deadlock over the governor of the oil-rich state of Upper Nile, which the Council urged both parties to resolve the issue to the earliest possible. President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar were able to work out on the appointment of nine out of the ten state governors, but failed to agree on the governor of the state of Upper Nile. A controversial opposition commander, General Johnson Olony Thabo was nominated by Dr. Rieck Machar in June, a nomination rejected by President Salva Kiir. There is a growing hope that the impasse will be resolved soon with reports emerging on Kiir’s change of mind on the matter.

Also a step forward in the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement is parties reaching a deal on the allocation of positions including deputy state governors, state advisors, and County Commissioners- a move previously appealed by the PSC during its 945th session. Another development that might interest the Council is the recently concluded national dialogue conference, an initiative launched by President Kiir in 2016 to foster national unity and reconciliation, held in Juba from November 3-17. The event was attended by more than 600 participants though the absence of SPLM- IO and National Democratic Movement (NDM) possibly dent its success. This is against the expectation of the PSC which previously called for the positive engagement of all actors including the holdouts in the dialogue.

A major development threatening the peace agreement and the transition in South Sudan is the perpetual culture of defection and change of allegiance, which, in the words of the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (RJMEC), is ‘contrary to the letter and spirit of the Agreement’. In October, Paul Malong’s SSOMA faction South Sudan United Front/Army defected to Kiir’s forces and reported launching attacks on Machar’s force. In November, wave of defection hits SPLMO-IO, raising the stakes for the peace agreement. Secretary General, Tingo Peter; deputy chairperson for foreign relations committee, Pasquale Clement Batali; and General Lok Tang Reat who was at the epicenter of the December 2013 fighting in Juba, are cases in point.

While the formation of the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (RTGoNU) in February is a big milestone for South Sudan, the continued delays over the restructuring of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly and the security arraignment trail the implementation process. It is to be recalled that the 36th Extraordinary Meeting of the IGAD Heads of State and Government held in July 2020 appealed to President Kiir to dissolve the current Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA) before 26th July and the parties to reconstitute the TNLA within 7 days of its dissolution. This has not materialized yet. The creation of a unified national army and the process of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) not only move at snail’s pace but also enmeshed by web of challenges including lack of resource.

The expected outcome is Communique. The Council is expected to welcome the positive developments in the Horn of Africa and recognize the looming challenges with the potential to reverse the gains made thus far; and in this regard, it may call for more enhanced support by IGAD, UN, EU and the rest of the international community for the transition in these countries. The PSC may also renew the mandate of the AUHIP for a further period of 12 months as per the usual practice. The Council is expected to note with appreciation the progress made by the Federal Government of Somalia and the Federal member States on the modalities of the 2020/21 elections and urge the two parties to continue their constructive engagement to carry out credible election without sliding into election related violence. It may reiterate the importance of implementing the transitional plan that laid out the steps for Somalia to assume full responsibility over its own security matter and urge FGS and FMS to commit themselves for the implementation of the plan. The Council may appeal to international partners to provide backing for Somali political forces to achieve political settlement including over sharing of power and resources between federal government and federal member stated and technical and financial support for ensuring inclusive, peaceful and free and transparent elections. It may further call upon the EU, UN and other partners to continue their financial support to AMISOM which is playing critical role in the peace and stability of Somalia. The PSC may also call on the UNSC to ensure that the views of the AU are fully taken into account in the UN’s assessment, under UNSC Resolution 2520, of the security need of Somalia as the drawdown of AMISOM continues.

The Council is expected to welcome Sudan’s removal from the SST list and may further call up on international partners to honor their pledges made during the High- level Sudan partnership conference in June 2020 in the effort to support Sudan’s economic revival. The Council is also expected to welcome positive measures taken by parties to the October 3 peace deal between the Transitional Government of Sudan, the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) and Sudan Liberation Movement of Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM) including raising the number of the Sovereign Council to 14 and the return of SRF leader, Al-Hadi Idriss to Khartoum. The Council may once again reiterate the call on the holdout groups, particularly Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) faction led by Abdelwahi Mohamed al-Nour and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) led by Abdelaziz al-Hilu to renounce any form of violence and commit themselves to the peace process.

The Council may commend the positive steps taken by President Salva Kiir Mayardit and Dr. Riek Machar in the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement, particularly the progresses made in relation to the appointment of deputy state governors, state advisors and county commissioners. The Council may once again call upon President Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar to settle the deadlock over the appointment of governor to the Upper Nile State. It may also commend President Kiir for convening the national dialogue conference held in Juba from November 3 to 17. The Council may also wish to express its grave concern over the continued delay in restructuring the Transitional National Legislative Assembly, the slow pace in the creation of a unified force and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programs; and urge parties to the peace agreement to expedite these processes as critical measures for sustaining gains made in the slow transitional process. The Council may also express the need for addressing risks resulting from the instabilities, divisions and defections affecting the parties to the peace agreement. The PSC may call for the creation of conditions for civil society organizations to contribute to efforts for consolidation of peace including through supporting the implementation of the outcome of the national dialogue process and the transitional justice mechanisms of the peace agreement.


Situation in Somalia and Operations of ATMIS

Situation in Somalia and Operations of ATMIS

Date | 11 November 2022

Tomorrow (11 November), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to consider as an agenda item of its 1121st session, the request submitted by the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) to extend Phase 1 of the AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) CONOPS and to delay the drawdown of 2000 troops from December 2022 to June 2023.

The session will have two segments. In the first, open segment, opening remarks will be delivered by the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Namibia to the AU and Chairperson of the PSC for the month, Emilia Ndinealo Mkusa, to be followed with statements by the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye and the Representative of the Federal Republic of Somalia, as the concerned country. In the closed segment of the session, Interim Deputy Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission for Somalia and Acting Head of ATMIS, Fiona Lortan will present a briefing to the Council.

It is to be recalled that Council last discussed the situation in Somalia and operations of ATMIS at its 1112th session which took place on 10 October 2022. The session served to consider the report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission on the situation in Somalia and implementation of ATMIS’s mandate. At the session, Council drew attention to the fast approaching deadline of the drawdown of 2000 ATMIS troops which according to PSC’s decision outlined in the Communiqué of its 1068th session, is expected to take place by 31 December 2022. Tomorrow’s session is being convened in the context of this approaching deadline and the request submitted by FGS to extend the timeline of Phase 1 of ATMIS CONOPS which envisages the reduction of 2000 uniformed personnel by the end of December 2022.

Despite the registration of notable success in degrading Al-Shabaab, the terrorist group not only continues to maintain presence in multiple parts of the country, but is also continuing to plan and orchestrate its devastating attacks. As recent as 29 October 2022, Al-Shabaab carried out two major bombings in Mogadishu. The death toll from these attacks has reached over 120 people and continues to increase as many of the hundreds of people injured from the bombings are under intensive care and in critical conditions. The intensity and resulting death toll from these bombings is said to make the attack the second deadliest attack in Somalia’s history after the 14 October 2017 attack which claimed the lives of 587 people and injured hundreds more. Days after the attacks in Mogadishu, Al-Shabaab fighters carried out another bombing targeting a Somali military base in central Galgaduud region. In addition to killing several soldiers, the fighters reportedly stole multiple weapons and military vehicles.

It emerges from these and other recent Al-Shabaab attacks that the terror group has the ability to carry out consecutive and at times, simultaneous attacks and is in possession of explosives that can cause heavy and wide-range damage to both human life and infrastructure. In the AU Commission Chairperson’s report submitted to the PSC’s 1112th session, it is also noted that not only is Al-Shabaab proving to be highly adoptive, it is also acquiring new capabilities in terms of both means and methods of carrying out attacks. It is noted for instance that the terrorist group has been able to acquire commercial drones, foreign fighters and snipers while also enhancing its ability to rapidly mobilise its forces and conduct swift intelligence-led targeted operations. These realities on the ground, along with the need to avoid any vacuum that may result from reduction of ATMIS at a time when the government affiliated forces are engaged in heavy fighting against the group, are likely among the factors informing FGS’s request to delay the envisaged drawdown of 2000 ATMIS uniformed personnel by the end of December 2022.

On its part, ATMIS has been able to carry out multiple successful operations against Al-Shabaab, jointly with the Somali Security Forces (SSF). As observed in the AU Commission Chairperson’s report, the mission has been engaged in key initiatives that have made significant military gains for SSF including the use of local community defence groups fighting alongside the national security forces, to liberate villages in the Hiraan region of Hirshabelle state and Galmudug. It has also been playing a significant role in providing operational support to the Somali Police Force in addition to its other multiple contributions. ATMIS however faces considerable challenges, mainly related to the absence of predictable funding and limitation of human resources – the last one being a major factor in overstretching existing ATMIS forces. This issue is also directly related to the slow progress obtained in Somalia’s force generation and integration, as an adequate generation of force under SSF would have lessened the existing burden on ATMIS. Speedy force generation and timely implementation of the Somali Transition Plan (STP) therefore remain key for the gradual handover of security responsibilities from ATMIS to SSF. It may hence interest Council to hear about the specific factors that continue to constrain the FGS in the implementation of the STP and the force generation and mobilisation process, in order to reflect on ways to address these challenges.

Phase 1 of ATMIS drawdown (reconfiguration) is also well underway but continues to experience delays due to the lagged process of force generation and mobilisation by the SSF. While ATMIS has already proposed prioritising reconfiguration of forces to reinforce Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) and requested FGS to avail the agreed number of troops to take over the FOBs, FGS is clearly facing difficulties in availing the required forces. At its 1112th session, it is to be recalled that the PSC called on the international community and member States to provide support to the FGS in its force generation and integration efforts, in order to avoid delays being faced in the transition of security responsibilities from ATMIS to SSF. Council may wish to reiterate its call at tomorrow’s session.

On the political front, Somalia continues to register notable progress in terms of efforts aimed at strengthening both internal reconciliation (between FGS and Federal Member States (FMS) in particular) as well as external/foreign relations. Following his inauguration in June 2022, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has been advancing the agenda of reconciliation and building an inclusive federal system in Somalia, in addition to being actively engaged in expanding diplomatic relations with multiple countries. In terms of priority areas, the FGS has adopted a four-year work plan, which has been endorsed by the FMS, envisaging activities within six major areas including security, justice, reconciliation, economic development, social development, and foreign relations. For the AU and other key partners of Somalia including UN and EU, it is critical to take note of these priorities and align their support along these lines.

Tomorrow’s session may also serve to reflect on the concerning humanitarian situation in Somalia. The current drought in Somalia is said to surpass the historic droughts of 2010/11 and 2016/17, both in its severity and duration. According to the UN, 7.8 million people in Somalia are affected by the drought as at end of October 2022. Among these are 1.1 million people who have been displaced due to the impacts of the drought. Of the affected people are also 1.8 million children who face acute malnutrition – accounting for over 50% of the total child population in the country – and 301,000 people facing phase-5/catastrophic level Acute Food Insecurity. In multiple of the drought affected areas, 10,440 cholera cases and 59 deaths were also recorded by the UN since January 2022. Added to these figures is the continuing displacement of people due to insecurity and intensifying conflicts between Al-Shabaab and government forces. In the month of September 2022 alone for instance, 101,000 people were newly displaced due to insecurity and conflict.

The expected outcome of the session is a Communiqué. Council may commend the government of Somalia for political milestones achieved particularly in advancing engagement with FMS and setting national priorities. It may commend ATMIS for its perseverance and its continued support to the SSF in degrading Al-Shabaab. It may also condemn in strongest terms the recent consecutive attacks carried out by the insurgent group in various parts of the country and pay condolence to the families of those who lost their lives in these attacks. Having deliberated on the request of FGS to extend Phase 1 of ATMIS CONOPS and to delay the drawdown of 2000 troops to June 2023, Council may underscore the importance of fortified efforts of partners and international community to support the government of Somalia in carrying out all necessary tasks for the gradual handover of security responsibilities from ATMIS to the SSF, particularly in the area of force generation and integration. In this regard, it may accept the request on extension. Considering the implications of the extension on resources and logistics as well as the overall exit plan, the PSC may request the AU Commission to hold consultations with all the stakeholders to achieve consensus on the adjustments to the exit plan and the mobilization of the resources for implementing the adjusted plan. Council may further emphasise the importance of securing predictable, sustainable and flexible financing in order to ensure the mission’s continued effective and impactful operation and to maintain the security gains ATMIS and Somali forces continue to register. The Council may also urge the need for concerted efforts in the force generation and integration of SSF to ensure timely progress in the transfer of security responsibilities from ATMIS. Noting the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the country and particularly the grave impact of the current drought, Council may call on the international community to mobilise timely humanitarian assistance to avert further suffering.


Ministerial session on the situation in Somalia and operations of ATMIS

Ministerial session on the situation in Somalia and operations of ATMIS

Date | 27 July 2022

Tomorrow (27 July), African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene its 1094th session at ministerial level to consider the situation in Somalia and operations of the AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS).

The session will start with the opening remarks of the PSC Chairperson for July, Djibouti’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mahmoud Ali Youssouf, followed by remarks of the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye. PSC is then expected to receive a briefing by the Interim Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission (SRCC) for Somalia and Head of ATMIS, Ms. Fiona Lortan. As a country of concern, the representative of Somalia is also expected to make statements. In addition, the representatives of Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU), as well as United Kingdom (UK) may deliver statements.

The session is expected to take stock of recent developments in Somalia and the progress made in the implementation of the mandates of ATMIS as envisaged in PSC communique 1068 (2022) and UN Security Council Resolution 2628 (2022), which authorized the new mission. This will be the third time for the PSC to discuss ATMIS since the Mission’s launch on 1 April 2022. It is to be recalled that PSC decided the reconfiguration of AMISOM into ATMIS during its 1068th session held on 8 March 2022. Tomorrow’s session is also convened within the framework of the PSC’s request in the communiqué of its 1068th session for the Chairperson of the AU Commission (AUC) to submit quarterly reports on the implementation of ATMIS mandate, including the steps taken by the FGS and international partners in implementing the new Concept of Operations (CONOPs). The session also comes at the backdrop of Council’s field mission to Somalia that took place from 19 to 22 July. As such, the session will greatly benefit from the delegation’s assessment of the situation on the ground and the outcomes of its engagement with various stakeholders.

On the situation in Somalia, the conclusion of the protracted parliamentary and presidential elections is one of the political developments since PSC’s last session that will receive attention during tomorrow’s session. On 15 May, the electoral process culminated in the election as President of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who served as Somalia’s President between 2012 and 2017, defeating the incumbent, Mohamed Abdullahi ‘Farmajo’. On 16 May, AUC Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, welcomed the outcome of the election, noting the crucial role played by the Somalia Security Forces (SSF) and ATMIS to guarantee security for the election processes. In a statement issued by his Spokesperson on 16 May welcoming the conclusion of the election, UN Secretary-General (SG) António Guterres expressed his hope that ‘the new president would move swiftly to form an inclusive Cabinet, and that the new Government and federal member states will work closely together to advance critical national priorities and address the challenges Somalia faces.’

During his inaugural address on 9 June, President Mohamud outlined that national reconciliation, improving relations between the central Government and federal member states, addressing the security threat from Al-Shabaab, and attending the dire drought conditions are among his national priorities. Given the difficulties the AU mission faced in the relationship with the previous administration, for the PSC maintaining a healthy relationship with the host country authorities would be of interest, considering in particular the dependence of the execution of the mandate and timeline of ATMIS on the cooperation of the FGS. On 16 July, Interim Head of ATMIS, Lortan, along with ATMIS Force Commander, met with Somalia’s new Prime Minister, Hamza Abdi Barre for fostering close relationship. During PSC’s field visit on 19-22 July, Prime Minister Barre, expressed commitment for ‘closer collaboration and effective coordination with ATMIS and the AU PSC.’

In the light of President Mohamud’s priorities particularly that of national reconciliation, a key process of the constitution of the new government being followed with interest is the composition of the new cabinet, as hinted in Guterres’s statement mentioned above. On 25 June, the Parliament approved Hamza Abdi Barre as new Prime Minster. Although he had a 30 days period until 25 July to announce cabinet, Prime Minister Barre requested for extension and Parliament gave him 10 more days to form the government.

On the security front, Al Shabaab has continued wreaking havoc even after the reconfiguration of AMISOM into ATMIS. In his 13 May report on the situation in Somalia, covering the period between 1 February and 6 May, Guterres noted an increase in Al Shabaab attacks where 236 security incidents were recorded, most of which were attributed to the terrorist group. Apart from its infiltration in and attack on the ATMIS base camp in Mogadishu in late March, it orchestrated one of the deadliest attacks on AU Mission targeting the ATMIS base in Middle Shabele region that killed several forces of the Burundian contingent. Highlighting the terror group’s regional ambition and willingness to exploit real or perceived fragilities, on 21 July, the group crossed into the Somali region of Ethiopia and suffered loss after several days of fighting. On 21 July, during the interaction between PSC members and Prime Minister Barre as part of the field mission, the later expressed the determination of the government to ‘launch a forceful and comprehensive fight to counter Al-Shabaab, ISIS and other terrorist organizations through military and non-military means.’

On the implementation of ATMIS mandate, tomorrow’s session may focus on three issues. The first is how reconfiguration of ATMIS is unfolding as key component of Phase I of ATMIS mandate, critical to creating the offensive and agile posture of the mission. Efforts are underway to generate mobile forces to conduct targeted offensive against Al Shabaab and to increase engagement with the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) to enhance their Counter-IED capabilities. As part of the reconfiguration, ATMIS has started rolling out various joint operations with the SSF against Al Shabaab and other armed groups. Yet despite the plan as part of Phase I of the CONOPs, to handover or collapse two to three FOBs per sector (total of 12 to 18 FOBs), only two FOBs (20% of the plan) have been collapsed so far. The FGS has as yet to formulate plan on how to proceed with the taking over or collapsing of FOBs. Of interest to the Council is also progress made in strengthening the command-and-control structure of the mission.

The other is the capacity of the SSF to gradually assume full responsibility based on the force generation benchmarks as envisaged in the ATMIS CONOPs. Accordingly, when ATMIS drawdowns 2000 troops at the end of phase I by December 2022, the FGS is expected to generate 3,850 security forces (more details in Amani Africa’s Monthly digest for March). As the Deputy SRSC observed in a recent interview with a newspaper, ‘despite over a decade of training, we still haven’t reached a point where we have sufficient Somali forces to be able to take control’. She further stated that the mission ‘can only succeed if the government is a viable partner. … This has been the missing link.’ Prime Minister Barre assured the PSC during its field visit that this will change, expressing the full commitment of the government of Somalia to developing the capacity of its security institutions to take over completely security responsibilities from ATMIS by December 2024.

The third key issue is about the financial and logistical support provided to ATMIS as well as the SSF. The PSC highlighted the necessity of predictable, adequate, and sustainable financing for ATMIS at its 1075th session that took place on 12 April. Although the funding shortfall of ATMIS has come down, the mission has a deficit of 70 million USD, which is one of the issues to be discussed in the session, including with partners, such as the UK, expected to propose.  In a recent ATMIS-UN Support Office to Somalia (UNSOS) meeting, ATMIS Force Commander Lt. Gen. Diomede Ndegeya emphasized that ‘to maintain a military advantage over Al-Shabaab, … the mission requires efficient acquisition, supply, and delivery of critical material during combat operations.’ The PSC at its 1068th session requested the UN to realign UN Logistics Support with the new CONOPs. During the deliberation between ATMIS and UNSOS that took place earlier this month to align the logistical support the mission receives in line with the new CONOPs, the Head of UNSOS, Assistant Secretary General Lisa Filipetto, indicated that ‘plans are underway to decentralize logistics to the ATMIS sectors to facilitate quick response and provide better support for troop mobile operations.’ How this would be followed up and the pace of such follow up would be of interest to PSC members.

The other issue deserving PSC’s attention is the grim humanitarian situation in Somalia, marked by one of the worst droughts in the country in at least four decades. The four consecutive failed rainy seasons, food price spikes, and underfunded humanitarian response has left 7.1 million Somalis, close to 50 % of the population, facing crisis-level food insecurity or worse, according to a statement issued by the Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia on 7 June. Humanitarian agencies have already raised the alarm over the risk of famine. Despite the ‘dire and grim’ situation, the funding for this year’s Humanitarian Response Plan for Somalia remains low at 15.7 % as of 20 May. The recent uptick of violence by Al Shabaab remains the other major impediment to address the situation.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a communique. The PSC may welcome the successful conclusion of the elections in Somalia and the peaceful transfer of power to newly elected President Mohamud. Also welcoming the priorities that the new President announced during his inauguration, the PSC may urge the government to focus on mobilizing its efforts in delivering on these priorities and avail AU’s full support in this respect. Council is expected to condemn Al Shabaab’s increased deadly attacks, including its recent attacks inside the Somali region of Ethiopia, and to underscore the need for a more robust collective effort at addressing the threat posed by the terror group. Considering the scale of the humanitarian crisis, created by the drought affecting Somalia, the PSC may call on the AU, working with IGAD, to initiate measures for supporting Somalia, while appealing to international partners to redouble the humanitarian assistance to avoid famine in the country. Regarding ATMIS, Council may welcome the commitment of FGS to closely work with ATMIS and UNSOS’s plan to align the logistical support that the mission receives in line with the CONOPs, and the unanimous adoption of UN Security Council resolution 2632 that extended the mandate of UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) until 31 October. Echoing its 1075th session, Council may emphasize the imperative of predictable funding and logistical support attuned to force mobility for the success of ATMIS, and may call on the partners to help address the funding deficit including through UN assessed contributions. In relation to strengthening the capacity of Somalia security forces, Council may reiterate its call on the FGS to ‘meet its commitments towards achieving the benchmarks and timelines’ as outlined in the CONOPs by capacitating SSF and strengthening local security & law and order institutions.


Briefing on financing for ATMIS

Somalia

Date | 12 April 2022

Tomorrow (12 April) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene its 1075th session to discuss the financing of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) which replaced AMISOM as of 1 April 2022.

Following the opening remark by Willy Nyamitwe, Permanent Representative of Burundi to the AU and the Chairperson of the PSC for the month of April, Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), is expected to provide update on the state of mobilization of funds for ATMIS. It is also anticipated that the representatives of the two partner organizations of the United Nations (UN) and European Union (EU) will also make intervention. Police and Troop Contributing Countries (P/TCCs) are also expected to participate in the meeting.

It is to be recalled that the AUPSC authorized this new mission at its 1068th meeting held on 8 March 2022 with a mandate to degrade Al-Shabaab; provide security to population centres and open the main supply routes;  develop the capacity of the Somali Security Forces to enable them to take over security responsibilities by the end of the transition period in December 2024; support peace and reconciliation efforts of the Somali Federal Government; and help develop the capacity of the security, justice and local authority institutions of the Federal Government of Somalia and Federal Member States. Subsequently, the UN Security Council also unanimously adopted resolution 2628 on 31 March 2022 endorsing the decision to reconfigure AMISOM into a new transition mission.

Despite the fact that ATMIS took over from AMISOM and its mandate commenced on 1 April 2022, its funding requirements remain unsettled. What further complicates the matter is that the troops are said to have not been paid for the month of March which underscores the urgency of addressing the financing issue. Troop Contributing Countries will likely raise this issue at the meeting.

The imperative of securing sustainable and predictable financing for the mission has been a perennial issue.  It was also raised during the discussion and negotiation on ATMIS both in Addis Ababa and New York as a critical issue for the success of the mission. In its 8 March Communique, the AUPSC ‘reaffirm[ed] the critical importance of sustainable and predictable financing, at adequate levels and for the full duration of the mission from 1 April, 2022 up to 31 December, 2024.’ Accordingly, the AUPSC ‘appeal[ed] to the UN, European Union and other partners to establish a financial support package, including through UN assessed contributions, taking into consideration the primary responsibility of the UN Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security.’

Resolution 2628 also ‘underline[d] the need to enhance the predictability, sustainability and flexibility of financing for African Union-led peace support operations authorised by the Security Council and under the Security Council’s authority consistent with Chapter VIII of the Charter.’ This resolution of the UN Security Council ‘encourage[d] the Secretary-General, African Union and Member States to continue efforts to explore in earnest funding arrangements for ATMIS, bearing in mind the full range of options available to the United Nations, African Union, the European Union, and to other partners, and considering the limitations of voluntary funding, in order to establish secure future funding arrangements for ATMIS’.

The UN is expected to continue providing logistical support package to the new mission. UN Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS) is mandated to provide logistics support to ATMIS uniformed and civilian personnel. This Support is provided through a combination of assessed budget and voluntary contributions from member states to the AMISOM Trust Fund. UK is said to have contributed recently some amount of money to the Trust Fund. UNSOS is also mandated to provide logistical support to the Somali Security Forces which is funded through voluntary contributions from member states to a Trust Fund managed by UNSOS. The Security Council has expressed its intentions to consider increasing the number of Somali security forces eligible for support through the UN Trust Fund and urged member states to continue contributing to the fund. But the use of UN assessed contributions to finance the mission, a longstanding request by the AU, is not being considered due to strong opposition by some permanent members of the Security Council. These members do not appear to be particularly keen to discuss the financing issue in a mission-specific context like ATMIS.

The EU has been a major financial partner of AMISOM and it is expected to continue financing ATMIS.  However, the EU has not yet made any commitment to finance the expense of ATMIS in full. The EU was part of the consultations on the reconfiguration of AMISOM to ATMIS as part of the Quartet format (Somalia, AU, EU and the UN). Consultations between the AU and EU has continued.  On 30 March 2022, a delegation from the EU held a meeting with the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ambassador Bankole Adeoye. The meeting centered on the EU Peace Facility, with affirmation of EU’s continued support to AU’s peace support efforts in the spirit of the Joint AU-UN vision adopted at the February 2022 AU-EU summit. While the EU put forward a proposed budget towards funding ATMIS, this does not meet the full funding requirements of ATMIS. It is not clear whether EU’s proposed funding amount short of the funding requirements of ATMIS is a result of current pressure facing the EU on account of the war on Ukraine and the resultant unexpected resource mobilization for meeting resource needs relating to the crisis arising from the war.

There are understandable concerns about how realistic the objectives set out for ATMIS are in the light of the current political and security dynamics in Somalia. Particularly, there is recognition that the success of the mission hinges on the full and effective implementation of the Somali Transition Plan and the ability of the government to mobilize the necessary forces. Past experiences in the implementation of the plan are far from reassuring in this regard. The relation between the federal government and the regions continues to be complicated as the government seeks to centralize power. The political situation in the country remains tense due to the infighting between the President and the Prime Minister and the ongoing electoral process with reports of potential violence in the context of the plan for certification of Members of Parliament. These conditions of heightened demand for the role of ATMIS in this delicate context make the need for filling in the funding gaps for ATMIS even more pressing.

At the time of going to publication, it remains uncertain if this session would have an outcome document. The PSC is expected to commend the TCCs and PCCs of ATMIS for continuing to deliver their responsibilities, despite remaining challenges. In terms of addressing the funding gaps, there are four options. The first is to go back to the EU and negotiate on additional funding to meet the shortfall. It is not clear if there is room for further negotiation with the EU on this and as such it is an option with limited chance of success. The second option is the possibility of filling the funding gaps from AU member states funds. Here as well current economic situation of member states and the funding of the AU is such that there may not be room for this option unless special dispensation for utilization of unused funds from other areas of the AU is going to be secured. The third option is to make a case to the UNSC to authorize the use of assessed contribution for filling in the funding gap of ATMIS. This speaks to the terms of Resolution 2628 which endorsed the PSC decision on the deployment of ATMIS. But it is difficult to see whether agreement would be reached on availing this option within reasonable time to address current funding shortfall of ATMIS. The fourth and last resort option is the convening of a funding summit for ATMIS for raising fund from AU member states and partners.


Briefing on the joint AU-UN proposal on the reconfigured mission to replace AMISOM

Briefing on the joint AU-UN proposal on the reconfigured mission to replace AMISOM

Date | 8 March 2022

Tomorrow (8 March 2022), the African Union (AU) Peace Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene its 1068th session to consider the joint AU-UN proposal on the reconfigured AU mission which will replace the current African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM).

Following the opening remark by Mafa M. Sejanamane, Permanent Representative of Lesotho to the AU and the Chairperson of the PSC for the month of March, Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), is expected to make statement. Francisco Madeira, Special Representatives of the Chair of the Commission for Somalia and Head of AMISOM will also make a presentation. The Representative of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) is also expected to make a statement. Others that are expected to make statement include the representatives of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), United Nations (UN) Office to the AU (UNOAU), and European Union (EU) Delegation to the AU.

The timing of the meeting cannot be more opportune in light of the fact that the first AMISOM contingent from Uganda started to deploy in Somalia in March 2007. Fifteen years later, the AUPSC is set to decide on a successor mission to AMISOM with a view to sustaining the gains made over the past decade and half.

The AUPSC meeting tomorrow will be held in accordance with the timeline set out by the quartet technical team composed of Somalia, AU, UN and EU to submit the final versions of the new Concept of Operations (CONOPs), the joint AU-UN report and the logistical support option for endorsement by the AUPSC and subsequently by the UNSC. Accordingly, the AUPSC is expected to receive a comprehensive briefing on the finalization of the three important documents which will help facilitate its decision on the reconfiguration of the mission.

It is to be recalled that on 15 February 2022, the AUPSC had received an update on the consultations that have been going on between the AU, Somalia, the EU and the UN on the new African Union Transitional Mission in Somalia (ATMIS). The Commission explained the nine principles agreed with Somalia to guide the work of this new successor mission to AMISOM which include national ownership and leadership, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, respect for African leadership and the central role of the AU, retention of the African identity and AMISOM’s legacy, acknowledge the evolving threat of Al-Shabaab, ensuring adequate, predictable and sustainable funding, transparency and mutual accountability, enhanced partnership and respect for human rights and international humanitarian law.

ATMIS is expected to undertake joint operation with the Somali Security Forces (SSF) to degrade Al-Shabaab and recover areas identified by FGS. It will also jointly hold recovered areas and provide protection for the communities, UN personnel and installations, secure main supply routes, facilitate humanitarian assistance and assist the FGS in its stabilization efforts. Most importantly, it will support the Somali security forces in terms of force generation and enhance their operational and logistical capabilities so that they will be able to gradually takeover security responsibilities.

The mission is expected to consolidate the gains, legacies and progress achieved by AMISOM and handover security responsibilities to the Somali Federal government by the end of December 2023 in line with the objectives set out in the revised Somalia transitional plan (STP). The gradual drawdown and exit of the mission hinges on the successful implementation of the STP and the capacity of the SSF to take over security responsibilities from the mission and maintain the security of recovered areas. The joint AU-Somalia proposal outlines key objectives to facilitate the effective implementation of the STP, including support to SSF in terms of force enablers and multipliers, ensure effective command and control, share risks and opportunities across sectors, support force generation, align sector boundaries with the Somali National Army sector boundaries, support the establishment of policing services in recovered areas and assist in vetting, recruiting, training, advising and mentoring the Somali police force, among others.

The joint proposal also outlines four phases for the new reconfigured mission. The first phase will allow a transition from AMISOM to ATMIS. In the second phase, ATMIS and SSF are expected to conduct joint shaping and clearance operations to create conditions for a decisive operation which will take place in the third phase with the objective of facilitating the transfer of security responsibilities to SSF. The last phase will see the gradual drawdown and exit of ATMIS. The FGS, the AU and UN will be conducting joint strategic assessment to monitor progress towards achieving the agreed timelines and benchmarks.

ATMIS will be a multidimensional mission with its military, police and civilian components. The new arrangement envisages the Force Commander to come from the largest troop contributing country (TCC) unlike the practice of rotation in the past. All TCCs are expected to be under the full operational command of the force commander but sector commander will have tactical command of the forces in their assigned sector. According to the joint proposal, it will be the FGS which makes the proposal for the appointment but it is not very clear how that would work practically. It remains to be seen whether this arrangement will be agreeable to the troop and police contributing countries (T/PCCs). The current AMISOM T/PCCs and civilian personnel will form part of ATMIS but the agreement envisages the possibility of new T/PCCs from other AU member States. The name of some countries which could possibly join the new mission was circulating on social media.

At the 15 February meeting, Council members were said to have emphasized the importance of aligning the mandate of the new reconfigured mission with the STP. The joint AU-Somalia proposal bases its assumptions on the effective implementation of STP which will allow ATMIS to handover security responsibilities to the SSF and winddown its operations in a matter of thirty-three months. But there seems to be a fair amount of skepticism about the prospects of implementation given the experiences of the past and the overall security, political situation and the state of the SSF.

The experience thus far shows that the implementation of the STP leaves a lot to be desired. Despite some progress made, the formation of a unified and cohesive security forces capable of fighting Al-Shabaab, holding to liberated territories and taking over responsibilities from AMISOM remains riddled with major gaps. There is accordingly expectation that the transition plan should be realistic, pragmatic and conditions based to ensure its effective implementation. There is also expectation that the Somali government will lay out clearly how it will generate the necessary force and capabilities to implement its transition plan and gradually take over security responsibilities so that the gains made by AMISOM can be sustained and the evolving threats posed by Al-Shabab can be addressed.

In the political front, the situation in Somalia remains volatile. This is mainly due to the slow progress in and the disputes over the electoral process, the infighting among various centers of power within the FGS and the contestation between the FGS and the Federal Member States (FMS). In terms of the security situation, during 2021 and the past few months Somalia has experienced intensification of attacks by Al-Shabaab. Without addressing these challenges in the political and security situation, ATMIS will face the same difficulty as AMISOM to deliver on its mandate within the assigned time.

The other important issue raised by members of the AUPSC is the need to take into account the views of T/PCCs in the development of the CONOPs. The T/PCCs are considered a major stakeholder in this process and they had their own views on the reconfiguration of the mission. It is to be recalled that the T/PCCs are the ones that pushed very hard for an AU-UN multidimensional mission which was proposed by the AU independent assessment and later endorsed by the AUPSC. It was one day before the AUPSC meeting that the Chiefs of Defense and Inspector-Generals of AMISOM T/PCCs met at the AU Headquarters and received an update from the Commission on the CONOPs, the AU-UN joint proposal and logistics options for the new reconfigured mission. At this meeting, the Commissioner for PAPS, Adeoye, reassured the T/PCCs about the multidimensional nature of the reconfigured mission and the importance of addressing the longstanding issue of adequate, predictable and sustainable funding for the mission. The Commissioner also underscored this point during his recent visit to Somalia and his engagement with the FGS, the T/PCCs and other partners.

The UN is expected to continue providing logistical support package to the reconfigured AU mission. The UN acknowledges the progress made in the technical discussions on the CONOPs; the joint AU-UN proposal on a reconfigured Mission; and the UN logistical options. The UN is of the view that progress in the implementation of the STP is critical in determining the success of the reconfigured mission in the transfer of security responsibilities to the SSF. The UN is, therefore, calling on the FGS to urgently convene the next STP steering committee meeting to advance this objective.

On the other hand, the EU has been a major financier of AMISOM and it welcomes the recent positive progress in terms of the joint efforts by Somalia and the AU in developing the proposal for a reconfigured mission. The EU representative in New York maintained that “the EU is willing to support the continued security presence of a reconfigured AU mission in Somalia, but there is no support for more of the same. This is precisely because the context has evolved, which requires a fresh, holistic approach to addressing the challenge posed by the mutating threat, which sees a number of actors working more closely to deliver such a comprehensive and integrated solution”.

The other emerging challenge for the EU could possibly be the new priority in its immediate neighborhood in relation to the unfolding situation in Ukraine. It remains to be seen how this will likely impact the EU’s commitment to continue financing the reconfigured AU mission in Somalia. The EU has already decided to provide support to Ukraine from the European Peace Facility which has replaced the African Peace Facility. The EU was also very much hoping that Somalia will request the Security Council for the renewal of the anti-piracy measures off the coast of Somalia to allow its Operation Atlanta to continue operating at least for the next nine months. However, the country has made its position clear that it will not do so as the anti-piracy measures have already achieved their objectives and there has been no record of piracy attacks or armed robbery off the coast of Somalia over the past four years.

The expected outcome of the meeting is a communique. The PSC is expected to welcome the work done in developing the various documents for implementing the transition of AMISOM to ATIMS as expected by end of the month. The PSC is expected to underscore the need for Somalia to finalize the long delayed electoral process. The PSC is also expected to commend AMISOM and the T/PCC for the sacrifices that AMISOM personnel made in pursuit of the stabilization of Somalia and for the achievements it has registered since its deployment in 2007 as well as the partnership with the UN and EU that played critical role in the implementation of AMISOM. The Council may also endorse the new CONOPs, the joint AU-UN report and the logistical support option and authorize the transition of AMISOM to ATMIS upon the end of the current mandate of AMISOM on 31 March 2022. The PSC may also reiterate its position on the imperative for predictable and sustainable multi-year financing for ATMIS. The PSC may also call on the EU to provide financial support for ATMIS. It is also expected that the PSC will call on the UNSC to endorse the transition of AMISOM to ATMIS and to authorize the contribution of the provision of UN logistics support for ATMIS from UN assessed contributions.


Briefing on the status of consultation on AMISOM post 2021

Somalia

Date | 15 February, 2022

Tomorrow (15 February) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1065th session to receive a briefing on the situation in Somalia and update on the consultations on the form that African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) takes at the end of its current mandate on 31 March 2022.

Following the opening remark by Jean Kamau, Permanent Representative of Kenya and the Chairperson of the PSC for the month of February, Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), is expected to make statement. Francisco Madeira, Special Representatives of the Chair of the Commission for Somalia and Head of AMISOM will also make a presentation. The Representative of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) is also expected to make a statement.

Tomorrow’s session comes against the background of series of meetings held in Addis Ababa, Mogadishu and virtually involving the Federal Government of Somalia, the AU and the UN and the EU as well. This is the first session on AMISOM in 2022 since the last time the PSC met in December. It is to be recalled that the PSC’s endorsement of option 1 (AU-UN Hybrid Mission) of the AU Independent Assessment Team’s report during it 1037th session did not attract the support of Somalia and also the UN. Actually, FGS issued a statement rejecting the PSC’s decision. It was in this context that the PSC requested the AU Commission through the communiqué of its 1042nd session to immediately resume consultations with Somalia and the relevant international partners to reach a mutually acceptable and workable agreement on the nature, strategic objectives, mandate, size, composition and financing of the AU-UN Multidimensional Stabilization Mission in Somalia, which should include transition benchmarks for the handing over of responsibility for security to the Somali Security Forces.

During the 1053rd session of the PSC, the last time the PSC considered the issue of the transition of AMISOM, it discussed the report of the AU PSC field mission to Mogadishu undertaken in November 2021. It became apparent from consultations during the mission that the proposal for the establishment of an AU-UN Multidimensional Stabilization Mission in Somalia did not have the support of Somalia. International partners also underscored the need to take into account the views of the Somali government which they believe is critical in garnering the necessary support from the UN and the EU. As a follow up to these expectations, series of consultations were held between December 2021 and February 2022.

At the end of December 2021, the Director of the Conflict Management Directorate of the AU Department of Political Affairs, Peace and Security held consultations with representatives of the FGS. Following the consultations, the AU and the FGS signed an agreement outlining principles and modalities on the reconfiguration of AMISOM. In pursuit of mobilizing consensus with other stakeholders, two meetings of the Somalia Quartet (FGS, AU, EU and the UN) were held. The first meeting was held on 5 January 2022 during which Quartet members welcoming the AU-FGS agreement on principles and modalities for reconfiguration of AMISOM. The second meeting was held on 26 January and discussed the outcomes of the AU-FGS technical team meeting held during the previous week and discussed the roadmap for the drawing up of the CONOPS for the newly reconfigured mission.

The AU Commission, AMISOM and FGS technical meeting on the parameters and strategic objectives for the New African Union Transitional Mission to Somalia (ATMIS) was held from 17 to 21 January in Addis Ababa Ethiopia. The result of the meeting was the signing of an 11 page long technical document outlining the principles, mandate, strategic end state, exit strategy, objectives, composition and structure of the mission, strategic management and coordination, command and control, mission support, and transition phases and benchmarks. It is envisaged that ATMIS will have a life time of 33 months and the current AMISOM Police and Troop Contributing Countries (P/TCC) and civilian personnel will form the basis of ATMIS with the possibility of expansion of the pool of P/TCCs to other AU member states.

In the communique of its 1053rd session the PSC accordingly acknowledged that any follow-on mission of AMISOM requires the support and consent of the FGS and UNSC – both of which are opposed to the establishment of a hybrid mission. While the PSC recognized the need for alignment of the reconfigured AMISOM to the Somali Transitional Plan (STP), it drew attention to the persisting institutional and capacity challenges faced by the Somalia National Army (SNA) in the fight against Al-Shabaab and emphasized once again the importance of ensuring the multidimensional nature of any follow-on mission and the need to ensure balance between the police, military and civilian components of the mission. During tomorrow’s meeting, it would be of interest for members of the PSC to confirm whether the 11-pager outcome of the technical meeting reflects these and other parameters including sustainable and predictable financing that the PSC set within the framework of its 1053rd session.

The AU and Somalia technical team continued their consultation in Mogadishu from 28th January to 9 February 2022 on the development of the Concept of Operations (CONOPs), joint report, and logistical support option for the envisaged new transition mission and they were joined by the technical teams from the UN and the EU. The joint statement issued following these technical meetings welcomed the roadmap developed by the Quartet on the finalization of the CONOPs, the joint report and the logistical support option. These documents are expected to be submitted to the Quartet principals for their consideration and endorsement. Subsequently, the final documents will be presented to the AUPSC and the Security Council.

The joint AU-Somalia proposal bases its assumptions on the effective implementation of the STP which will allow the new mission to handover security responsibilities to the Somali Security forces and winddown its operations in a matter of two years or so. But given the experiences of the past, this could be considered overly optimistic. The implementation of the transition plan was indeed fraught with so many challenges. In recent years, Al-Shabaab has also gained significant strength in continuing to create havoc and mayhem in Somalia. What contributed to this situation is the political crisis in the country and the ongoing tension between the center and the regions which has been further exacerbated by the ongoing election process. Therefore, this and other issues could possibly be raised at the AUPSC by TCCs and others.

The AUPSC will receive an update on these series of consultations which appear to have contributed to the progress made in shaping an agreed proposal by the AU and Somalia on the future of AMISOM through a newly reconfigured transition mission. However, there is no indication that AMISOM TCCs have been consulted and their views taken on board in the new joint AU-Somalia proposal. It is also the TCCs that pushed very hard for an AU-UN multidimensional mission which was proposed by the AU independent assessment and later endorsed by the AUPSC. In its communique adopted on 28 October 2021, the AUPSC also reaffirmed its decision based on its conviction that it would ensure strategic, predictable and sustainable multi-year financing for the future mission, through UN assessed contributions. It is not clear how the joint proposal will address this particularly important issue going forward. During his recent visit to Nairobi, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell was quoted as having said that “the EU will not fund the Mission based on its old structure that focused on combat and troops on the ground with little attention to rebuilding institutions”.

At the time of publishing this insight, the form of the outcome document of the session is unknown. If the PSC opts to adopt an outcome document, it will take the form of a communiqué. The PSC is expected to take note of the progress made in the consultations. The Council may reiterate its concern over the delay in the finalization of the election process in Somalia and urge the speedy finalization of the election. The Council may express concern over the volatile security situation in Somalia and the continued attack by Al-Shabaab. With respect to the consultations on ATMIS, the PSC is expected to welcome the consensus reached between the AU and FGS on the details relating to the transition mission. The PSC is expected to call for the finalization of the CONOPS for ATMIS and its submission for its consideration and adoption with active participation of P/TCCs. In terms of the duration and the various phases of the ATMIS, the PSC may call for a realistic plan that is flexible enough to allow adjustments based on the security situation on the ground and the progress made in the implementation of the STP, including Somalia Security Forces capacity to take over security responsibility for the AU mission. The PSC may also reiterate its position on the imperative for predictable and sustainable multi-year financing for ATMIS.


Briefing on the situation in Somalia and the status of AMISOM Post 2021

Somalia

Date | 07 December, 2021

Tomorrow (7 December), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to consider the situation in Somalia and receive updates on the status of the discussion on the future of AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) post 2021.

Following the opening remark by Tesfaye Yilma, Permanent Representative of Ethiopia and the Chairperson of the PSC for the month of December, Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), is expected to make statement. Mohamed Omar Gad, PSC Chair for the month of November is expected to present the report of the PSC Field Mission to Somalia conducted last month. Francisco Caetano Madeira, Special Representatives of the Chair of the Commission for Somalia and Head of AMISOM will also make a presentation. The Representative of the Federal Government of Somalia is also expected to make a statement.

This meeting comes after the field mission by members of the AUPSC to Somalia, which took place from 8-10 November 2021. The mission was undertaken in the context of the ongoing discussion between Somalia and the AU on the future of AMISOM and the impending mandate renewal of the mission in December. Members of the AUPSC took the opportunity to demonstrate solidarity with Somalia as it continues to hold its electoral process and strives to consolidate its peace, security and stability.

The last time the Council met in October, the Somali political scene was dominated by a public row between the President and the Prime Minister in relation to a controversy surrounding the disappearance of a Somali cyber security expert who used to work for the Somalia National Intelligence and Security Agency. The tension has now been somewhat eased and the two leaders have reached a compromise on the appointment of senior security officials. However, the country continues to face so many challenges and the disagreements between the president and the prime minister and the federal government and the federal member states continue to stir political tension in the country, as members of the AUPSC observed during their recent visit.

Regarding the delayed Somali electoral process, some progress has been made recently in completing the election of members of the upper house of the Somali federal parliament. Election of members of the lower house, the House of Peoples, has also started and the process is expected to be concluded before the end of the year. This will then pave the way for the holding of the presidential elections. In a statement issued on 26 November, “International partners urge[d] the completion of inclusive and credible House of the People elections acceptable by all electoral stakeholders and the Somali people according to a published timetable, by 24 December 2021”. However, Somali opposition groups who organized themselves under the Union of Presidential Candidates are reportedly saying that they will not accept results of the ongoing parliamentary elections citing lack of transparency and widespread irregularities. The Spokesperson of the group was quoted by the media as having said on 1 December that “The Union of Presidential Candidates declare[d] that it does not condone, accept, and will not be part of the ongoing looting that destroys peace and the state-building process”. During its visit in Somalia, the Council underscored the need for the effective, comprehensive and expedited implementation of the September 2020 and May 2021 agreements concerning elections’ modalities”.

Recently, there have been series of engagements on the future of AMISOM post-2021. It is to be recalled that, through its Communique adopted at its 1042th meeting on 28 October, the AUPSC had requested the AU Commission to immediately resume consultations with the Somali government and the relevant international partners with a view to reaching a mutually acceptable and workable agreement on the nature, strategic objectives, mandate, size, composition and financing of the AU-UN Multidimensional Stabilization Mission in Somalia, which should include transition benchmarks for the handing over of responsibility for security to the Somali Security Forces.

During the field mission to Somalia, members of the AUPSC engaged with the representatives of the Somali federal government and other international partners. What came out clearly during these discussions was their disagreement with Option 1 of the AU Independent Assessment Report—endorsed by the AUPSC in October—that proposed the establishment of an AU-UN Multidimensional Stabilization Mission in Somalia. International partners underscored the need to take into account the views of the Somali government which they believe is critical in garnering the necessary support from the UN and the EU. In this regard, they have proposed the holding of technical discussions to identify possible alternative options that would help in building consensus and eventually guarantee the support of all key stakeholders, including in the Security Council.

The issue was discussed during the 12th consultative meeting of the UN-AU Joint Task Force held virtually on 5 November involving senior officials of the relevant departments of the UN Secretariat and the AU Commission. Subsequently, it was also discussed at the Fifth UN-AU annual conference between the leadership of the two institutions held on 1 December. Divergence of views were said to have been reflected by the two organizations during the discussion on the issue but agreement was reached to establish a joint technical team to engage with key stakeholders on the Somalia Transition Plan and to develop a joint proposal to be submitted to the Security Council in line with resolution 2568 (2021). Furthermore, the issue is on the agenda of the upcoming joint annual consultative meeting between the UNSC and AUPSC scheduled to take place on 17 December 2021. The experts of the two Councils have been negotiating on the outcome of the meeting and one of the points of disagreement in this negotiation appears to be a language related to Somalia and the issue of predictable and sustainable financing of AMISOM.

The mandate of AMISOM is due to expire this month but these discussions apparently require sometime to allow the host country, the AU, the European Union and the United Nations to agree on a common way forward on the future of AMISOM. The Secretary-General had already written a letter on 29 September to the President of the Security Council explaining the ongoing consultations among the key stakeholders pursuant to resolution 2568 (2021) and requested additional time to finalize these consultations and submit an agreed proposal by the end of the year. Through its Communique adopted at its 1037th meeting on 7 October, the AUPSC also requested the Security Council to consider a technical roll-over of the AMISOM mandate, while discussions continue on the details and modalities for transition towards the post-2021 arrangement. Therefore, there seems to be a possibility for the UNSC to agree on a short extension of the mission’s mandate to allow these discussions to be finalized.

The expected outcome is a communiqué. The PSC based on the recommendations of its field mission report may reiterate its previous decision particularly as relates to the establishment of AU-UN Multidimensional Stabilization Mission in Somalia while considering the position of the Federal Government of Somalia and international partners. It may call on the AU Commission to continue discussion with the Federal Government of Somalia on Concept of Operations for a follow-on mission to AMISOM. The PSC may also underline the importance of continuing consultation between the AU, Federal Government of Somalia, the UN and partners to have a common understanding of AMISOM post 2021. To this end, it may request the UNSC for a technical rollover of AMISOM’s mandate to allow more time to reach consensus on the way forward. It may urge Somali political actors to address their differences and ensure that free and fair elections are conduced within the set timeframe.


Briefing on the situation in Somalia and the status of consultations in the Independent Assessment Report on AMISOM post-2021

Somalia

Date | 07 October, 2021

Tomorrow (07 October), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected convene its 1037th session to consider the situation in Somalia and the status of consultations in the Independent Assessment Report on the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) post-2021.

The session is expected to have two segments. In the first segment which will be open to invited guests, opening remarks will be delivered by the PSC Chairperson of the month and Permanent Representative of Mozambique to the AU, Alfredo Nuvunga, to be followed with a statement from the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye. The representative of the Federal Republic of Somalia, as the country concerned, and representative of the Republic of Sudan, Chair of Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) will follow with their statements. In the second segment of the session in which only PSC members and the AU Commission will participate, Francisco Madeira, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission in Somalia will make a presentation.

It is to be recalled that the PSC considered the report on Independent Assessment Team on the AU’s engagement in and with Somalia post-2021 during its 1015th session, which was held on 30 July this year. The Independent Assessment Team recommended the establishment of an AU-UN Multidimensional Stabilisation Support to Somalia as the most appropriate option for the future of AMISOM post-2021 while proposing an AU Multidimensional Stabilisation Support to Somalia (reconfigured AMISOM) as the second preferred option. No outcome document has been issued for the meeting.

The AU Commission subsequently sent a delegation led by Fiona Lortan to engage with the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) in August, to discuss among others, the new AMISOM mission post-2021. The two days meeting between the AU Commission and FGS resulted in a breakthrough agreement that culminated in a joint statement outlining the major issues they agreed on. Most notably, the two sides agreed to jointly consider the ‘AU Transition Mission’ as the post-2021 Somalia mission. Moreover, the AU Commission and FGS, together with UN and international partners, agreed to develop a joint ‘workable’, ‘realizable’, and ‘game-changing’ CONOPS, which forms the basis for the future ‘AU Transition Mission’, within the timeline for submission of no later than 31 October 2021. The PSC convened another session on 31 August to receive briefing about the meeting between the AU Commission and FGS from 18 to 19 August, but with no outcome document.

As a follow up to the August meeting, a joint steering committee meeting was held between the AU Commission and FGS from 21 to 23 September in Mogadishu, to develop the joint CONOPS for the ‘AU Transition Mission’. The meeting was convened specifically to work on the details of the CONOPS including the end state, objectives and tasks of the new transition mission; its composition and structure; sector alignment; command and control; joint operations and coordination with Somali National Army (SNA); force generation; and logistic requirements of the mission. It was agreed to review the zero draft of the CONOPS by 28 September and complete for the consideration by the PSC and subsequently submit to the UN Security Council by 31 October 2021. In tomorrow’s session therefore, the PSC is expected to receive update on the progress made towards the development of the joint CONOPS, which remains critical in shaping the envisaged transition mission in Somalia post-2021.

In addition, the Council may also hear about the activities of AMISOM particularly in the areas of joint military operations with SNA, the support provided in the implementation of the Somali Transition Plan (STP), as well as electoral assistances. One major development likely to be highlighted in this respect is the recent (22 September) launch of a Joint Operations Coordination Centre (JOCC) in Mogadishu, marking the establishment of such centres across all sectors of AMISOM. The August, AUC-FGS agreement emphasized the importance of joint operation between AMISOM and SNA and develop strong tactical cooperation and coordination to effectively degrade Al-Shabaab. In this context, the establishment of the centres is a step forward in bridging the existing gap in the areas of joint planning and coordination for military operations against Al-Shabaab. The financial, operational and technical support being provided to the elections in Somalia based on the PSC decision at its 994th session, are also likely to be highlighted.

It is also important to note that tomorrow’s session comes at the backdrop of deepening political tensions between Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble and President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo. There is concern that the ongoing disagreement within the government may affect the electoral process and the ongoing fight against Al-Shabaab. The elections have already been delayed even before the disagreement between the two principals. Upper house elections, which were scheduled to take place from 25 to 28 July started after some delays. Lower house elections, which were supposed to start on 10 September, have been postponed. As the lower house delegates are the ones who will subsequently elect the president in an indirect voting model, the postponement will also affect the timeline for the presidential election, which was initially scheduled to take place on 10 October. There is so far no indication of when it will happen. Hence, there is growing call for the parties to resolve their differences through dialogue. They are being urged to work towards the successful organization of peaceful, inclusive, transparent and credible elections and focus on the fight against Al-Shabaab.

On 2 October, International partners, including AMISOM and IGAD issued a statement expressing concern that the core issues of disagreement between the President and the Prime Minister have not yet been resolved in spite of the ongoing mediation efforts over the last couple of weeks. They indicated that the prevailing political uncertainty might have the risk of further delaying the elections and the ongoing dispute over the leadership of the Ministry of Internal Security (MoIS) and NISA, which will undermine the fight against Al-Shabaab. Therefore, they urged the two principals to resolve their differences and redirect their efforts towards implementing the 17 September 2020 and 27 May 2021 agreements on the holding of elections and agree on the appointment of the leadership of key security institutions, which will be critical for the holding of peaceful elections.

It is against this backdrop that the future of AMISOM post-2021 is being discussed. The mandate of AMISOM is due to expire in December 2021. The UN has already done its own independent assessment and recommended a reconfiguration of the mission. The AU Independent Assessment Team’s recommendation for establishment of an AU-UN Multidimensional Stabilization Mission was rejected by the Somali government, which necessitated further consultations between the AU and the Somali government to resolve differences and chart a way forward.

From what appears, the discussion is not over yet and December is fast approaching. Obviously, there is a need for the host country, AU, the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) to agree on a common way forward on the future of AMISOM. This may require some time and there appears to be a request for an extension. The fact that elections are going to be delayed also makes it all the more logical. The Secretary-General, upon the request of the AU, is said to have made the request to the UN Security Council (UNSC). However, this is being met with opposition by some of the permanent members. What this all means is that the mandate renewal process over the coming months will not be a smooth sailing.

The outcome of tomorrow’s session is not clear at the time of finalizing this ‘insight’. However, the PSC may take note of the progress made towards the development of joint CONOPS for the ‘Africa Union Transition Mission’ and commend the efforts of AU Commission, FGS, and international partners in this regard. Council is also likely to welcome the positive steps taken by AMISOM and the SNA towards enhancing joint planning and coordination of military operations against Al-Shabaab including through the establishment of JOCC. Cognizant of the need to transfer security responsibilities progressively to the FGS, Council may underscore the importance of AMISOM’s continued support to strengthen the capacity of Somali national security forces. In relation to the election, the Council is likely to reiterate its request for AMISOM, during its 994th meeting, to ‘continue providing technical support to the political and governance processes of Somalia at federal and regional levels, including technical assistance to the planning and conduct of the elections once an agreement has been reached’. On the political situation, Council is expected to express its deep concern over the feud between Prime Minister Roble and President Farmajo, and in this connection, it may echo the call of the latest joint statement by international partners to resolve their differences through dialogue, prioritize the implementation of the 17 September 2020 and 27 May 2021 electoral agreements, and ensure the ‘key security institutions (MoIS and NISA) are headed by able and legitimate leaders given the electoral season of the country. PSC may also request the AU Commission to use all available tools at its disposal with the view to supporting Somalia conduct peaceful and credible election, as well as preventing electoral violence.


Briefing on consultations with Somalia on post-2021 AU Engagement

Somalia

Date | 31 August, 2021

Tomorrow (31 August) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is set to convene a briefing session on the consultations with the Federal Government of Somalia on the post-2021 AU mission in Somalia the AU (AMISOM). The session is a follow up to Council’s meeting convened on 30 July during which the PSC considered the report of the AU Independent Assessment team regarding AU’s engagement in and with Somalia post-2021.

Following opening statement by Ambassador Churchill Ewumbue-Monono, Chairperson of the PSC for August, Fiona Lortan, the Ag. Director for Conflict Management, at the Political Affairs Peace and Security (PAPS) Department is expected to brief the Council. As the country of concern, a representative of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) is also expected to deliver a statement.

It is to be recalled that the PSC considered the report on independent assessment on the future of AMISOM 1015th session. The independent assessment team, established pursuant to PSC Communique of 9 February 2021, led by Major General Xolani Mankayi from South Africa, recommended the establishment of an AU-UN Multidimensional stabilisation support to Somalia as the most appropriate options, among the four options, for the future of AMISOM post-2021. The consensus reached among members of the PSC during their last session on AMISOM was in support of AU-UN multidimensional stabilisation mission despite UN independent-led assessment report calling for a reconfigured AMISOM.

It is worth noting that the government of Somalia, through its Foreign Minister, rejected the report of independent assessment team, complaining on the lack of sufficient consultation. Somalia’s rejection of the AU independent assessment team’s report seemed to also show preference for a more supporting role from AMISOM through the supply of mobile forces while the main security responsibility falls within the hands of government forces. This perspective of Somalia’s Government was also emphasised by the country’s representative at the United Nations (UN) Security Council (UNSC)’s meeting on the situation in Somalia which took place on 12 August 2021.

While there is recognition on the need for transition involving transfer of security responsibility for Somalia security forces (SSF), how this is done and the nature of AMISOM support that the security situation and the state of readiness of SSF remain critical questions for averting rushed processes risking reversal of gains made with so much sacrifice. As stressed in the report of the AU Independent Assessment team, a premature withdrawal of AMISOM could result in a serious security vacuum and lead to the loss of positive gains that have been made over the years. The importance of a cautious approach is highlighted by the threat Al-Shabaab continues to pose in Somalia. This is particularly true in light of recent fears that were ignited as a result of Al-Shabaab’s hailing of Taliban following the latter’s takeover of Kabul in Afghanistan.

It is against this context that AU Commission sent a delegation led by Fiona Lortan to engage with the government of Somalia with the aim to iron out differences and reach on a common understanding on the future of AMISOM post-2021. The meeting between AU Commission delegation and the FGS took place on 18-19 August 2021 in Mogadishu, Somalia. This led to a breakthrough resulting in the signing of an agreement and a joint statement. Tomorrow’s PSC session is in accordance with the agreement reached between the AUC delegation and the FGS to present the outcome and main agreements of the joint meeting to the PSC as well as the UN Security Council and the international partners. In this respect, the briefing by Lortan is expected to highlight the major outcomes of the agreement.

One major issue likely to receive attention is the consensus reached on the AU Transition Mission as the post-2021 Somalia mission. The agreement reached focusing on strengthening the command control of AMISOM and most importantly the call for AMISOM and Somalia national army joint operations seem to suggest a model that resembles option 2, which is a reconfigured AMISOM. The exact shape that this post-2021 AMISOM takes in Somalia is expected to become clearer with the finalization of the joint Concept of Operations (CONOPS), which, according to the joint statement, ‘will form the basis for the future AU Transition Mission’. It is worth noting that the Commission and FGS agreed on developing a joint ‘workable’, ‘realizable’, and ‘game-changing’ CONOPS no later than 31 October 2021 with the participation of UN and other international partners. It is of interest to the Council that AU is also working with UN, EU, UK as well as the FGS to address the main concern of securing predictable and sustainable funding to the post-2021 AU mission in Somalia.

In light of the growing threats posed by the Al-Shabaab and the upcoming elections in Somalia, the other issue of interest to the Council is the consensus reached on enhancing military operational effectiveness of AMISOM and Somalia Security Forces (SSF). An interesting development in this respect is the agreement reached for joint operations by enabling ‘effective, agile and mobile operations with strong tactical cooperation and coordination’. As a follow up to this agreement, the military commanders of AMISOM held a two-day meeting with their Somalia counterpart to evaluate the progress towards the implementation of joint operations. The two sides also assessed progress made regarding AMISOM’s CONOPS, the Somalia Transitional Plan (STP), and the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2568 (2021). The reconfiguration of military, police, and civilian components of AMISOM and the establishment of ‘mobile and quick reaction forces’ are considered as steps towards enhancing operational effectiveness in countering the evolving threats posed by Al-Shabaab.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a Communiqué. The PSC may commend the work done by the AIA team and the AU delegation that visited Somalia for reaching at a common position. Council may congratulate the AU and FGS for reaching an agreement on the modalities for determining the form that AU’s Mission in Somalia takes post-2021. It is also expected to underscore the need for a well-planned and phased and adequately resourced and structured transition that is capable of sustaining the gains and containing the threat posed by Al Shabaab. It may call on the UN, EU and UK as well as other relevant partners to engage with AU on the modalities and financing of the transition mission. The PSC may also reiterate its appreciation for AMISOM and call on its continued support to the country in realising the goals of the Somalia Transition Plan (STP). Council may also welcome the initiatives by AMISOM working with the Government of Somalia towards enhancing the effectiveness military operations. The PSC may also indicate next steps including the plan for engagement by the AU Commission and African members of the UNSC with members of the UNSC and the EU as well as the process and timeline for the elaboration of the CONOPS for post-2021.


Consideration of the Report on the Independent Assessment on the future of AMISOM

Somalia

Date | 30 July, 2021

Tomorrow (30 July) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1015th session to consider the report on the Independent Assessment Team (IA) on the AU’s engagement in and with Somalia post-2021. This session is expected to determine PSC’s policy decision on the form that the presence of AU Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) will take post-2021.

The session will have two segments. During the first and semi open segment, it is envisaged that following the opening remark of the Chairperson of the PSC, Victor Adekele, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Somalia, Mohamed Abdirizak, the Chairperson of the Inter- Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the East African Standby Force (EASF), IGAD Secretariat, the Special Representative of the Secretary General to the AU and Head of the United Nations Office to the AU (UNOAU), Hanna Tetteh and Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation to the AU, Birgitte Markussen will make statements reflecting their respective policy perspectives on the agenda of the session against the background of the engagement of each in Somalia and with AMISOM. During the closed segment, the Chairperson of the Committee of Experts of the PSC and the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Bankole Adeoye, will make presentation while the Special Representative of the AU Commission Chairperson, Francisco Madeira, will present a briefing on the situation in Somalia.

The working documents that the PSC is expected to use for this session include the report of the independent assessment team and the report of the two meetings of the PSC Committee of Experts. Other documents that the PSC Committee of Experts proposed to serve as further source of reference are the outcome documents of the recently concluded meetings of the Specialized Technical Committee on Defence, Safety and Security (STCDSS) and the meeting of the Military Operations Coordination Committee (MOCC) of the Troop and Police Contributing Countries (T/PCCs) of AMISOM.

It is to be recalled that the PSC took a decision for undertaking its own independent assessment after the UN undertook its own assessment upon the failure of the AU and the UN to conduct joint assessment. UNSC decided in March this year to renew the mandate of AMISOM until December 2021 through the adoption of resolution 2568 (2021). African members of the Security Council voiced concern over the draft process and advanced the common African position based on the PSC communique of February 2021 emphasizing the need to listen to the host country, the AU and troop contributing countries. Indeed, the AU had appealed to the UN Security Council ‘to avail the space necessary for the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS), in close collaboration with the AU, to lead the discussions concerning the international engagement with Somalia post-2021, in line with the Somali Transition Plan, after undertaking its internal process and assessment’. That is why it requested the UN Security Council to refrain from pronouncing prematurely on any possible arrangements beyond 2021, including through the use of non-agreed concepts and terminologies that are beyond the existing applicable arrangements.

While the AU agreed with the ten months extension of AMISOM’s mandate, it expressed disappointment that its views were not taken into account in the UN Independent Assessment, particularly the request for joint leadership and expanded scope in undertaking the assessment. However, the UN went ahead and conducted the independent assessment on its own and recommended a reconfiguration of AMISOM post-2021.

Therefore, the AU did its own independent assessment based on the direction given by the PSC. The independent assessment team, set up pursuant to the PSC communique of 9 February 2021, was led by Major General Xolani Mankayi from South Africa. In undertaking the assessment and preparing its report, the IA interacted with troop and police contributing countries, various stakeholders in the AMISOM hosting country, concerned representatives of international organizations including the AU and the UN as well as experts on AMISOM.

During tomorrow’s session, the PSC will be briefed on the independent assessment team’s report. The issues that the team canvased to which PSC’s attention will be drawn include the political situation in Somalia, the ongoing stabilization and peacebuilding process, the security environment and the threat posed by Al-Shabaab as well as the broader regional geo-political dynamics. Most importantly, PSC will examine the four options identified in the report.

The options the independent assessment team proposed are the establishment of an AU-UN Multidimensional Stabilization Mission in Somalia (UNMIS); an AU Multidimensional Stabilization Support to Somalia (reconfigured AMISOM); the deployment of the East African Standby Force (EASF); and finally, an AMISOM Exit and assumption by the Somali Security Forces (SSF) of security responsibilities under the Somali Transition Plan post-2021. In its report, the team recommended the establishment of an AU-UN Multidimensional Stabilisation Support to Somalia as the most appropriate option for the future of AMISOM post- 2021.

The first option is similar to the UN-AU Hybrid operation in Darfur (UNAMID). The assessment team made this recommendation based on the consideration that it will ensure sustainable and predictable financing from UN assessed contribution and address the logistical challenges facing AMISOM. This has also been the view of troop contributing countries of AMISOM. However, UNAMID was deployed under unique circumstances and the UNSC may not necessarily agree to replicate such a hybrid mission. It is also worth recalling that the UN Assessment Team opted against this option on three grounds: that the UN doctrine and guidance clearly advise against using UN peacekeeping operations for counter terrorism and enforcement actions; that this option requires the allocation of significant additional resources than are currently committed for international security assistance in Somalia; and that this complex transition to a hybrid mission would distract international attention from focusing on investing in Somali-led security and would risk delaying transferring security responsibility to Somalia Security Forces (SSF). Indications are that this is not the option that the UNSC is inclined to support.

The second option, an AU Multidimensional Stabilisation Support to Somalia (or reconfigured AMISOM) is also what the UN independent assessment recommended. This is the second preferred option that may receive AU’s support if the first option fails to work out. This option would entail change in the mandate, force size and composition of AMISOM. It would also require logistical and financial support. As such, this would entail agreement between the AU and the host state on AMISOM’s roles and parameters for transfer of security responsibilities to SSF, the adoption of new concept of operations and consultations with the UN and the EU.

The AU seems to be interested in demonstrating its commitment to the operationalization of the African Standby Force (ASF) and the third option could be looked at from that perspective. It envisages that the EASF could be deployed in Somalia in the context of a reconfigured AMISOM. This would entail a complete transition rarely tried in earlier experiences and could also limit the broad continental scale contribution to and make up of AMISOM.

The fourth and final option for an AMISOM Exit and assumption by the SSF of security responsibilities under the Somali Transition Plan post-2021 may not appear to be feasible given the actual situation on the ground and the slow pace of STP implementation. But this appears to be the option supported by the FGS.

In tomorrow’s session, the Council is likely to pay attention to the first two options (the hybrid arrangement and reconfigured AMISOM). On this, the PSC is expected to rely on the presentation of the outcome of the discussions on the IA report during the two meetings that the PSC Committee of Experts and the Military Staff Committee held on 7 & 23 July. The Chairperson of the Committee of Experts is expected to highlight the conclusions of the meetings underscoring the need for maintaining the role of the AU, preserving the legacy of AMISOM, ensuring predictable and sustainable financing, addressing the logistical as well as command and control challenges along with taking on board the views of the Somalia government.

One of the difficult issues for tomorrow’s deliberation is Somalia’s hostile position towards the independent assessment report. It is reported that the government rejected ‘the report’s finding and recommendations.’ This is indicative of the need for the AU and Somalia to agree on a realistic option that avoids any risk of reversals of the gains achieved with the support of AMISOM and guarantees smooth and successful transfer of responsibilities to SSF.

Apart from the IA report, the PSC is also expected to discuss the current state of the situation in Somalia and AMISOM, among others based on Madeira’s briefing. The last time the AUPSC met to discuss the situation in Somalia was in April 2021 against the backdrop of the political crisis in the country following the unilateral decision of the lower house of parliament extending the term of the government for two years. This led the PSC to request that Somalia actors abide by the 17 September 2020 agreement on the holding of elections and the Chairperson of the AU Commission to appoint a Special Envoy to work with the Somali stakeholders with a view to helping resolve the political impasse. Although Former President John Mahama of Ghana was appointed as Special Envoy, in unprecedented move, the FGS rejected the appointment.

Meanwhile, after months of political stalemate, the Somali political stakeholders were able to renew their commitment to the implementation of the 17 September 2020 agreement on the conduct of elections and resolve outstanding issues after having undertaken series of consultations under the leadership of Prime Minister, Mohamed Hussein Roble. They also agreed on a new electoral calendar to hold indirect parliamentary and presidential polls. Accordingly, elections were set to start on 25 July in the various regions for the election of members of the upper house but they had to be postponed, reportedly because of technical and logistical delays. It is in this context that the PSC will be meeting tomorrow. The PSC will also review the security situation including the continuing threat that Al-Shabaab poses as demonstrated by the attacks it continues to orchestrate.

The expected outcome of the session is a communique. The PSC may commend the work done by the IA team for the work done. Based on exchange views focusing on Option 1 (AU-UN joint mission) and Option 2 (reconfigured AMISOM), it is possible that the PSC may welcome the recommendation for the establishment of an AU-UN Multidimensional Stabilisation Support to Somalia as the most appropriate option. The PSC is expected to indicate next steps including reaching at common understanding with the Somalia government, the plan for engagement by the AU Commission and African members of the UNSC with members of the UNSC and the commencement of planning to implement the option finally agreed on. The PSC is expected to welcome the agreement of Somalia parties for holding the elections in accordance with the 17 September 2020 agreement and urge them to ensure the successful and peaceful conduct of the elections. It may express concern about the continuing threat that Al-Shabaab poses and commend AMISOM for its roles and the UN and the EU for their partnership.